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November 2000


by (Livin' La Vida) Mocha

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English Translation:

Learn to take picture purr-fect shots of your cat. You cannot make a cat
smile, nor will kitty promise to hold still while you frantically try to focus
and frame the magic moment. When it comes to photography and cats,
you need to be ready to capture their antics on film as they happen.

Here are 10 basic tips on better picture taking:

1) Rely on basic equipment. Amateur photographers don't need to shell out a lot of money for expensive camera equipment. A 35mm or digital camera with a removable flash is recommended. Helpful accessories include translucent white diffusers for the flash, additional lenses for closeups, and a tripod to steady the shot.

2) Clear up "Red Eye". Get the flash source away from the body of the
camera to avoid this very common problem. Red eye happens because the light that passes through the cat's pupil hits the retina and bounces straight back to the film. You should always have your flash at least 6 inches off the film plane (the camera). For many cameras you can buy an auxiliary handheld flash that can be put on a cord so your cat can be illumionated off center. An indirect flash is also healthier for your pet because the flash won't cause temporary blindness.

3) Pick the right film speed. A film speed of 100ASA is recommended rather than the more popular 400ASA. The lower the ASA, the finer the grain of the image you're going to get. Your picture will be sharper and show more fur detail.

4) Select puposeful poses. A typical picture of a cat is of it sleeping, because they sleep 16 hours a day. Look for the rarer moments when they are actually moving. Great shots often require team work. Have another person ruffle or smooth fur, or hold a treat in the direction you wish the cat to be looking.

5) Bribe them with treats. Select a favorite food treat to serve during photo sessions. They will be much more cooperative and willing to hang around for a few extra shots.

6) Respect their dignity. Take photos that depict cats natural behaviors. Avoid making them perform tricks, or even worse - wearing costumes.

7) Know your cat's routine. Cats are habitual creatures. They like set routines, so use this to your advantage when you bring out the camera. If you watch patiently, you'll discover their distinctive patterns and antics and be better prepared to capture them on film.

8) Vary your angles. Most amateur photographers simply stand a few feet away from their cats and snap their photos. Take photos from a variety of angles. If your cat is sleeping on its scratching post, lie down on the floor and shoot at your cat's eye level. Or try close up shots and ones in which you stand directly overhead.

9) Give your photos an edge. Use the outer edges of a photo rather than centering everything. With a camera you are capturing a rectangle of what exists. The world isn't always dead center. Often times, its chaotic, unpredictable, and off center.

10) Scope out the background. Once you've lined up your photo, before you press the shutter, check your background. is there clutter that might be distracting? Or does something in the background add to the mood you're trying to set? You don't want something strange growing out of your cat, but sometimes background objects can really add a playful tone.

Now - practice, practice, practice! The real secret is to take
a lot of photos and experiment with what works for you,
your camera, and your cat.