Measuring up

One – me/I – never cease comparing myself and my work to others. Do I measure up? Am I better than ordinary better than average?

Family snaps? Easily I am as good or better. Professional group shot? Um, the jury is out. For sure, I am less expensive! In a quiet moment, I can stage and shoot a family portrait right up there as good as the best of them. Gesture(s)? “Jump!”

I favor natural light. Avoid harsh shadows. Bright sunlight is too much for the camera to compensate over such a wide range. Incandescent home lighting tends toward yellow tones. I prefer a good shot out of the camera as opposed to a long fix in Photoshop. No one group shot is ever perfect. Someone is looking, frowning, talking, or simply has their eyes closed. Take multiple shots, pray the crowd is patient, and hope for the best.

When it comes to a group shot, there are no bad ones – it’s all about posterity, eh?


Eyes. I’ll say it again. Eyes. This is the soul of the photograph. My dog Nellie was uncanny in her ability to blink as the camera flash fired. Absolutely uncanny, shot after shot with eyes closed. My cats do not look at the camera. They ignore me. The camera moves. It positions itself in front of their face. Voila! You would think it’s easy. Ha ha. Do I make everything seem easy? Two shots to the green and one putt and you’re in.

I shoot a lot of cat shots. I walk around the house and find them where they are and put the lens in front of their face. We take multiple shots in the hope that one will be good. I edit. Done. We have eight cats again/now. Try and find them, and then photograph… ha! It’s a neat trick. Location finder, I need a location finder!


Candid? Portrait? Focus. Sure. But… I strive to have the cat looking at me. It ain’t easy. They like to look everywhere else but at the camera. No doubt they have seen my camera before and are simply familiar with it. I hold the camera in front of their face/eyes… to no avail, mostly. Willow especially almost never is caught with his eyes in my lens. Then again, once in a while…

Rocky start

Mo mo a play on no mo’ had a rocky start. I got clawed and bit – bad. Blood was lost… my bad, I scared him as I tried to catch him and put him in the bathroom for his safety. He’s totally gentle and loving when he’s calm. Tille our other black cat was on double secret probation for a period. I was seriously thinking Mo was not going to catch on in our household. Then he climbed into my lap…

Shooting a convincing portrait of a cat is all about the eyes. You gotta have sharp focus. And the cat has to be looking at you, directly into the camera lens. Try it. Cats don’t follow instructions very well. And a new scared cat….? But the effort is worth the while… it comes down to try and try till you succeed.

Mo had his bio listed in the various places and even the local community newspaper without anyone taking any bit of interest. Imagine!? A cat this cute got no response? His picture is worth a proverbial thousand words. As I said, he climbed into my lap and purred….


You can pretty much tell who’s reluctant. Not much you can do. Smile! No one does it on demand. Mostly the sisters are reluctant at best. So? What can you do? I close my eyes and press the shutter. I hope for the best. And usually it is not. But the documentation is another year gone by. It’s good to be here. And each passing year is more and more precious. Eh? And… the middle (age wise) sister is in the middle.


I wanted to use “multiply redundant.” I’m not sure it’s a term or whether I made it up. The internet is not quite vague.

Portrait. Group shot. Summertime. Reunion. Colleen’s family has come to the beach annually for many many years. It is an opportunity for group shots. It is a bit easier than herding cats though all are reluctant. They are fortunately good humored about it. Redundant? Shoot early and often. Someone is always looking the other way, not smiling, got their eyes closed, or…. You take a bunch of shots and hope for a “good” one. One shot? If you take one shot, you have pretty much closed off a lot of options. It is a juggling act. The camera settings, light, focus, composition…. I got/get about 30 seconds to get a proper shot. You would think it’s magic. The come on? I share out pics to the family and they certainly appreciate the gesture. I think? To be sure they did not have on their “Sunday best” when I gathered them together. At least they all look like they know each other.

Seriously, I sigh. With passing years these group shots become ever more precious. I regret the paucity of shots with my two brothers.

Self conscious

How do you get a good family shot? Mostly people freeze up and are self-conscious as soon as they see me pick up the camera. We see Noa infrequently. When we do I have a camera in hand continuously from greeting till we say “bye.” There is no self-conscious. I am just continuously shooting. Sometimes it works. It sure did this time.

Posing immediately places pressure on your subject. They are obligated to perform. Simultaneously get three subject to pose? Oh my! But there are moments of happiness and if you are lucky it translated onto your camera sensor. I still consider it luck to draw out smiles and to get three in synch is nearly a miracle.  But I never give up trying.

My best dog

Story? Picture? Both?

Willow. My best dog. He acts/feels like a dog sometimes. He is a cat. Duh! But it feels like he reacts more like a dog ocassionally. He begs. He’s always hungry. He will come when I call. He will show up for petting. He sometimes acts more a dog than my old dog Nellie.

Mute. Willow does not speak. He squeaks. No meow. Squeak. I wonder?

The photo has sharp focus on the eyes. Good. The color cast is blue. Shade. There is a distraction in the background – black hose. Good? Sometimes it is the story? Or does the picture trigger the story?


Cat’s outta the bag. Feather is my favorite. I have seven cats in the house. She likes me best. She likes me better than any of the others. So?! I gotta like her back. No way around it. Colleen swears she has been my cat all along. No jealousy. It’s just so. So, I like Feather.

She’s my best cat. The others don’t know.

As I have said in the past, cats don’t pose. They may sometimes stare at you. Expression? Smile? Emote? Ha! The trick? Point the camera straight into their eyes. Ah! The lens is directly on line with their gaze. It makes it appear they are paying attention to you. Ha ha! It lasts but a moment. So, shoot fast and shoot often. I got it! … my best cat!

Tight fit

No cats were injured in the making of this picture. Ha ha. Cats like to be in tight places. Sometimes. They like the coziness? I was just lucky enough to have a camera at hand. Willow posed for a few seconds more before he realized his cooperation was needed. Then, he bolted. He does not particularly like close-ups.

A grab shot is – you take what you can get. There is no time to work the scene for better composition or lighting. Go with it. Chalk it up to good humor.