Some days art just happens. It requires almost no effort – you just simply show up and it happens.
And when it comes to photographing cats, well, that’s the only way art happens. Anything else is just a struggle with mediocre results.
I have set up a little studio in my basement. It is the first time ever that I’ve had 24/7 access to set up lighting and a backdrop. Everywhere else I’ve shot with studio lights, everything had to be taken down at the end of the shoot. No random playing without unpacking everything, setting it up, testing it, etc. etc.
When my latest administrative assistant quit, I would get very sad looking over at her empty desk. I have been through more assistants than Murphy Brown — so many now, it’s both depressing and comical. So last month when I decided to revisit my Skulls and Flowers project, I decided to heck with it (I used more colorful language, actually), I’ll set up my backdrop and lights and just GASP leave them up!
Here’s how the cats got involved … There’s a table. There’s interesting things on the table like boxes and skulls and set up stuff, etc. And there’s cats in my basement. Two of them: Serena and Rose. Now, if you were to try to pose them — lure them into the backdrop, set things up for success, it would NEVER, ever work. There’s a reason why they liken impossible situations to “herding cats.” Cats do what cats do and that is that — and rarely what is on your agenda meshes with what’s on theirs.
The fun thing is, the cats do like the backdrop. They are frequently in it — when I’m on the phone, when I’m teaching a webinar, when I’m in the middle of a very long editing session with a client — they pose and play and generally look very enticing to my photographer’s eye and as soon as I hang up the phone, close the class or finish the edits, they’re GONE.
This morning, I came down to do an editing session and just as I hung up the phone, Rose jumped up on the backdrop with Serena. My camera was literately inches from my hand. One flip of the light later and I had cat portraits. I snapped about 10 frames before the battery on my Cybersync shot craps. So off I went to edit what I captured.
When I pulled up the images they were pretty. BUT, I am procrastinating going to the grocery store (I’m actually procrastinating the getting dressed part of going to the grocery store), so I decided to play around with some Photoshop techniques. I love to layer filters in Photoshop with masks and varying opacities. Creating unique combinations of filters and masks can create some amazing results, I’m very happy with the ones from this morning. (For you PS buffs I layered a neon glow filter over my base photo, adjusted with opacity and a mask and then used the Shadows and Highlights adjustment to create depth and clean up my shadows) and then I did brush touch-ups to make it all work.
So there you go … unplanned cat art.
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