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Photographing Cats in the Kitchen

Photographing Cats in the Kitchen

by Kevin Treadwell (TFC Birmingham)

My usual subjects are much bigger than cats and wouldn’t fit in my kitchen. Normally you'll find me setting up my portable photo studio in my clients' yards to photograph their horses.

My equestrian photo shoot setup consists of three Elinchrom battery flash systems. The main light is an Elinchrom ELB 1200 fitted with a Rotalux 100cm Octa, and I also use two Elinchrom ELB 500 TTL systems as side lights, both fitted with the standard 18cm Reflector with some diffusion cloth wrapped over the heads to soften the light. 

I'll go into more detail about my equine photography in a future blog, for now, here's an example image shot with the Elinchrom setup outlined above.

While I love my three-light setup, it’s sometimes nice to strip things back and keep things simple, and this was my thinking when a friend asked me to photograph her young kitten at her house.  

For this shoot, I scaled back to a single Elinchrom ONE battery-powered flash head fitted with an Elinchrom Rotalux Go Octa 60cm softbox. I also armed myself with the amazing Canon EOS R5 mirrorless body to take advantage of its great ‘animal’ eye AF mode.  

As Ted the kitten is a Silver British Shorthair, I’d been asked to use a black background to help show him off. My setup for this was a small foldout picnic table used on its lowest height, a Phottix Saldo Background Support Kit, Seamless Black Cloth Backdrop, some TetherTools A-Clamps and, of course, Ted’s favourite toy to catch his attention.

Ted was a complete star and not phased by the setup or the flash. I managed to get some lovely images, but the one below was my friend's favourite. As always, the raw files were processed through Capture One Pro with some basic adjustments to produce this image. 

I then had a play in Photoshop and added and grey digital background that I think works really well and in fact, ended up being the finished printed and framed image.

I really enjoyed the shoot with Ted, and as some of you may already know, I have three Bengal cats at home. So, I decided to spend some time over the festive break to do a shoot with them. Unlike my usual clientele, they don’t come in from the field covered in mud! 

I managed to get set up in our kitchen, another bonus as it's much warmer than the stables. The setup was again a single flash head, and this time, used the Godox AD300 Pro TTL fitted with the Phottix Rani II 60cm folding beauty dish. The camera was once again the Canon EOS R5 with a Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 Art Lens and a Godox Xpro C Canon Trigger fitted. I tried a vintage-style coloured background and a black background to give me different looks. 

Before you say anything, yes, I know I should have steamed or ironed the backdrop!  

My camera settings were ISO 400, f8/f11 and I played around with the shutter speeds up to 1/2000s to help kill the ambient light and also mitigate camera shake, as I was holding the camera one-handed (the other hand was swinging around a cat toy!).  

The Godox AD300 Pro was perfect for the job, and more than powerful enough with great recycling times, so I never missed a shot. Like most modern flash units, the Godox HSS mode was faultless, very easy to use and simple to adjust from the Godox Xpro trigger. The Phottix Rani softbox performed well too, and gave me the control I needed to work in a small space. 

Here are a few of the images from the shoot session. All shot RAW and ran through Capture One Pro.

Hopefully, this shows what can be produced with some basic lighting kit and a little bit of patience (much needed when working with animals!). If you have any questions about the equipment and techniques used, please feel free to drop me an email at kevin@theflashcentre.com or call TFC Birmingham on 01213279220.

To see more of my work you can follow Wizard Equine Photography on Facebook here: Wizard Equine Photography

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