Cats - always moving! How to get IF?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by shuggi, May 22, 2009.

  1. shuggi

    shuggi TPF Noob!

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    Actually 2 in one queries using D90 wi SB600 handheld
    1) DOF - cats at rescue centers I shoot as a volunteer - they're typically terrified, freaked out by flash (even bounced), and forget umbrella (far too frightening). I USE flash to get the speed to counteract constant movement, I use Tamron mostly, zoom close and sometimes dof so tight I get eyes in focus and ears OOF???
    2) If cats ARE moving, and they do move fast, what to do to keep cat in focus
    Oh Lens
    Nikon 18-105 3.5-5.6 VR
    Tamron 17-50 2.8 no VR
    Nikon 18-55 3.5-5.6 no VR
    PS I've developed a few tricks to HOLD them still, but that usually blocks part of body and I'd rather have pic of whole cat. Usually takes 20+ shots to get ONE good freeze IF.
     
  2. NateS

    NateS TPF Noob!

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    If you are using flash, then why are you using such a small DOF? Close your aperture down to about f4-f5.6 and try again. Plus, if you are using a flash, then you could always use a faster shutter speed (not that this matters much since the flash should freeze the subject. Shoot in AF-C mode and an aperture however high you need to get your DOF preference.

    VR isn't going to help you for moving shots. I'd use your Tamron 17-50 f2.8 at about f5.6.

    If they are scared of the flash, then maybe you should just set up some static lights....say some 500w halogen worklights. Set your white balance and shoot with the continous light once they get used to it.
     
  3. itznfb

    itznfb TPF Noob!

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    this has nothing to do with answering your question but i'm curious now...
    how did you get this gig and what are the pictures used for?
     
  4. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    If the cats are reacting badly to the flash then there is one thing to do STOP USING THE FLASH!! If the animal reacts constantly negativly to the flash then all you are going to do is add stress to the cat which is something that it does not need - also I take it the shots are to rehome the cats - few people will get that aww feeling from shots of cats freaking out (they prefer those nice sad pleading faces).

    If constant movement is the problem then shift your shooting. See if there are outdoor pens you can use where ambient lighting will be brighter than inside. Also even if you are stuck inside try using a reflector - that won't have the shock effect of the flash and you can use it to direct more lighting onto your subject.

    As for keeping the cat in focus with animals the only part you have to worry about is the eyes - if they are not in focus the shot is just not going to work most times (there are always exceptions but this is a rather strong rule). So keep your focus on the eyes.

    If movement is a problem then its time to use some control methods - a toy, treats, food, use those things to entice the attentions of the cat to look at your camera lens - to get the animal moving where you want it to be. Also you might find that comming round just after feeding time that the cats are a little more relaxed - or even in the early morning. IF they are sleeping or drowsy (and not being flashed) they will be far easier to compose and get in the shot.
     
  5. shuggi

    shuggi TPF Noob!

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    I'm retired I don't do any paid work yet but love challenges. So I volunteered to do photography for the local SPCA and for several Cat Rescue Groups. It's VERY challenging - and the SPCA can be demanding, i.e. calendar shots, 24, 8 x 10, hi res, cats and dogs. They allowed 5 days, which was pretty absurd since I didn't know location, if I could set up a "semi studio" or what - cancelled since I had only one free day in timeframe. Sad. Best/most interesting shoot was a vet doing 28 spaying/neutering of cats in one day....not gory at all, but amazing watching the pro's at work. One wild cat for sterilisation-and-release took 3 people wearing leather gauntlets + blanket to get him back into his cage! Also great people shots, very wary coming in...and so happy at end of the day when collecting animal. Cats int his were easy since 95% under anesthetic!
     
  6. Battou

    Battou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Rescue shelters need photos for the purpose of adoption of the animals. People want to know what the animal looks like before going it to see it, My brother in-laws girl friend has been browsing sites for this sort of thing for the last two months, the better the photo the more likely the animal is to be adopted believe it or not.

    ^^^+1

    Another suggestion I have to add to Overread's statement, Spend more time at the shelter, sit with the cats, get to know them enough for them to be comfortable with you and show them that you are not hostile and you might also want to take the camera with you and let them see it and sniff it so they can see it is harmless. I have never had any problems shooting cats with my SLRs, My dP&S has some focusing issues but AF sucks on that and that is another story.

    Below are some examples of cats I have shot (not shelter shots but still cats)

    Just the Beast Under Your Bed by Battou - Photo Lucidity

    Please don't go by Battou - Photo Lucidity

    One hardend kitty by Battou - Photo Lucidity

    Shot with chincy digital Point and Shoot
    BW Photo Kittenz by Battou - Photo Lucidity

    Oatmeal Cream Puff by Battou - Photo Lucidity

    Macey by Battou - Photo Lucidity

    Warning tis a black cat by Battou - Photo Lucidity

    With shelter shoots, technical composition is meaningless, only the subject matters, take the shot when it presents itself, don't try to be fancy.
     
  7. shuggi

    shuggi TPF Noob!

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    To overread
    Thanks a mill for sound advice...but am not sure I can drop flash. (I do bounce it so it's never "in their face". Yup, I keep the eyes in focus...SPCA sites are different and easier. But for rescue cats, light is typically lousy - in a pet food store or similar "location" where cats have been "driven in" and set up in cages for adoption. I don't REALLY freak them out - I'm VERY careful and usually work with them to calm them down beforehand. Again, location is really SCRUNCHED. Don't worry, all my shots end up AWWWW....I take until I get that "Take me!" look....or, I'll leave it and wait till they are calmer. I do it coz I love animals...not to drive them nuts.
     
  8. Battou

    Battou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It can be done, but you have to really work on their being comfortable, boarderline asleep.

    Her is one I overlooked in my gallery taken flashless indoors.

    Notso in a box by Battou - Photo Lucidity
     
  9. shuggi

    shuggi TPF Noob!

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    BATTOU
    Thanks - I repeat I am strong on AWWW - I don't have time right now BUT IT WILL POST SOME PIX later when I figure out how to...I only signed up about 2-3 hours ago.
    Lovely pix FROM YOU!
     
  10. Battou

    Battou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks, as for posting pictures, I use Photobuket to host images to be posted on the forum. Once the image is hosted it's as easy as copy pasting the url with tags

    Like so
    [IMG][COLOR="Black"]http://img.photobucket.com/albums[/COLOR]/v371/battousaiofnphiles/Photos/Animals/468932_K400_008_1-1.jpg

    will show like this
    [​IMG]
     
  11. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    time is certainly going to be your limiter here - the only angle I can think of that might get you allowed more time with the more skittish cats and flash is that most people (heck most kids) have a camera with flash (be it a phone or a point and shoot) so pets get exposed to it a lot - if you can take time with an animal to help it with dealing with flash then its helping the chances of a good rehoming -- ok its not that solid an angle but it is an angle and if you can put the time in then its worth it.

    The only other thing would be to try (and which might be the more successful) is the stand lights that NateS suggested - that would get you more ambient lighting and void the need for flash as much - plus its something that you can carry and setup yourself. If there is space you could even look at some sort of softbox for the light so that its a little softer and not so harsh - if your going to have less space then I would try for two or more lights at different angles with lower power so that the lighting is even over the cat and not too powerful that it gives you exposure problems
     
  12. shuggi

    shuggi TPF Noob!

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    Overread
    Yuh - space is a real limitation - I'll look at Nate's - I agree with 2 lights off camera.
    At Xmas I did two days "Your dog with Santa" - 65 dogs - the dogs were fab but due to store crammed with stuff I was literally restricted to being 6-8 ft in front of Santa + dog, flash on stand bounced from ceiling (pushed light up so bounce was good & hit target zone), camera on tripod, coz I had to sit on floor to keep camera level with dogs/Santa was sitting on real low sofa/dogs either on his lap or sitting next to him. The Great Dane was the funniest, I was SOO flipping close his head literally lunged into the viewfinder! As I said, doing this is challenging...and fun.
     

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