How to Photograph a Black Cat




Introduction: How to Photograph a Black Cat

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Depending on your view - and on the temperament of your resident feline photography subject - cats can be either totally easy to photograph, or totally challenging to photograph. In my experience, there doesn't seem to be much in between with cats - with photography or anything else related to them.

A black cat, however, poses some interesting challenges. Actually, almost any black animal does, especially one with a black nose and no other accent features. The one in our house doesn't even have a tail, so if he's doing something particularly photogenic in less than optimal light, he has a tendency to look more like a furry blob than anything else. We had an all black guinea pig once, too, with black eyes to make things more challenging - and in photos you couldn't tell which end was which!

There are, however, some simple solutions to getting some decent, and sometimes nicely artistic, black cat photos.

Just don't stand under a ladder while trying these...

Step 1: Go to the Light

Of course, when a black cat starts doing the things cats do, like lounging around in the shadows, upside down, twisted around and all that good stuff - which is ordinarily what you might want to get a shot of, because you haz lolcat and you gotta share - then ya got nothin'.

One of the easiest ways to get a decent black cat photo is to photographic the cat in bright light, against a light background. Not very artsy, but you get a decent picture of a cat.

Step 2: Location, Location, Location

When you're trying to photograph a dark cat with other subject, with an automatic camera, no less, other challenges present themselves. If you're just using default camera settings, depending on where you're focused and how your automatic white balance is set, and the color of the other subject - in this case our long suffering brown dog - the foreground subject, especially if its near a reflective area like the tile floor here, will be better illuminated.

You can tinker with camera settings, of course. And I could say "move your subject" but it's a cat, so you have to wait. Wait until the cat moves either into the foreground, or at least even with the other subject, and things should balance out.

Step 3: Open Those Eyes!

A black cat with its eyes closed might as well be a black hole. No light will escape that ebony furball.

So wait for it... wait for it... and when those eyes open, especially when looking towards a brighter area, you can get your shot. These were just done with a cell phone camera, which allows you to get ridiculously close.

Step 4: Flash of Last Resort

I don't like using flash, but sometimes, it works to good or amusing affect. The problem with flash photos of animals, and especially of cats, are those high beam eyes of theirs which are so reflective. It wasn't an issue in this shot, because the cat wasn't looking directly at me, and the dog was just waiting for it all to end.

Step 5: Black Magic

Black cats can be hard to photograph, but sometimes, they're pure magic.

An all black cat stands out beautifully in a field of colors, or highlighted in bright natural light. So, be patient, and wait for open eyes and the right light, and you might be able to capture some lovely shots of the black cat in your life.

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Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

I'm just going to assume this is an honest photography related question, and suggest that it depends on the darkness of your cat's fur. All the same principles would hold - contrasting background, open eyes, plenty of light.