Live Cat Bounce

On Wall Street, they call a brief rally during a bear market a “dead cat bounce.” While this tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the kind of people who work on Wall Street, that is not today’s subject.

At the Ojai Photography Club, our members represent a broad spectrum of interests and commitment levels. Some are working professionals, some are passionate amateurs, and many are people who enjoy art and, by the way, would like to take better pictures of their cats.

Funny you should mention it, because when I took these pictures of Greystoke, my 20-pound Russian Blue, before attempting to wrestle him off of my pillow, it occurred to me that I enjoy grabbing snapshots just as much as I enjoy crafting photographs. Maybe I enjoy it more. But there are certain techniques I take for granted that make snapshots more consistently pleasing images. For example, I almost never point an electronic flash directly at my subject. I generally bounce the flash off the ceiling or wall to change the angle and apparent size of the light source. I don’t think about it very much – I just do it. If I did not have a bounce-able flash unit, I would seek some other way to diffuse the light. Or I wouldn’t take the picture.

I got the pillow back, but keeping it was not easy. Had I thought to use the small bounce card built into my SB800 flash, I could have pushed a little more light forward to brighten Greystoke's eyes.

Built-in or pop-up flashes have gotten very good at providing a pleasing exposure and preventing red-eye, but they cannot overcome basic physics. Had I pointed a flash directly at Lord Greystoke, it would have produced harsh, distracting shadows on the wall behind him, and would have blown out the light colored sheet in front of him. If you want a better picture of your cat – or nearly any other subject illuminated by electronic flash, find a way to bounce the light.

1 Comment

Filed under Lighting, Motivation, Portraiture, Professional vs. Amateur

One response to “Live Cat Bounce

  1. myrna

    meowwwwww! thanks dean

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