I’m in the process of putting together the calendar for 2016. Usually, the refuge likes to use people’s photos of their adopted animals, but the quality of photographs you get isn’t always brilliant. Though they may be lovely snapshots, they may not have been taken on a device that has enough megapixels of detail, so that by the time you blow it up to A4, it can look pixelated and grainy, though it might look wonderful on an iPhone.
The other point is that you sometimes get really wonderful photographs that completely outshine all the others, and the variation in quality makes those snapshots look worse in comparison because of the guy with his amazing camera. Ordinary only looks ordinary when someone has something magnificent at the side.
Plus, all those snapshots depend on people’s good will. You can say, “Hey, we’re putting out a new calendar… send us your pet photos!” only to end up with four or five photos instead of the twelve you need.
So, armed with my lovely new backgrounds, I’m shooting the pet photos this year.
I’ve already got a list of pets to photograph. As per usual, it’s a little thin on kitties. Cats are so hard to photograph. Dogs are so easy. Dogs, you say, “Sit! Here’s a biscuit! Smile for the camera!” Click. Biscuit. I usually hold a biscuit over the lens of the camera and you get the dog looking right at ‘you’ (well, the lens).
You can try that with a cat. Have you ever tried to make a cat sit? Smile? You can try and get their attention. If you like. If they want, they might give it to you. If not, good luck.
I’d already picked out the background I was going to use for three of the kittens I have in foster care at the moment. They’re grey tabbies, so I thought they’d look good against something light. The Hope Association had bought me six backgrounds, including a snowy scene, and I’d picked up some fluffy fabric that might have looked a little snowy.
This is what kittens do, when you’re alone in your laundry. They bugger off and do what they want.
Having an assistant is always a bonus.
So you start picking them up and putting them on the fluffy background, give them a ball to play with and try and get their attention. They just look vaguely unamused and rather annoyed.
And then you realise one of the kittens is slightly boss-eyed, so you try and make sure the boss-eyed one isn’t the one you’re photographing, but he’s the only one who’s interested in being photographed.
And I feel a bit mean for picking his cuter sister who isn’t boss-eyed, but then people won’t think there’s something wrong with the camera.
But then they start falling asleep on the job…
This is NOT going to plan.
Finally, when you think all is lost, you get the one shot. There’s a cat asleep in the background, but you think you can edit it out in Photoshop. A bit of cropping, cloning out a sleeping cat, dodging and burning here and there and voilà – one kind-of calendar-worthy kitten ready to be Miss February.