Monday, August 8, 2011

Sadie meets kitteh

Sadie was cat-tested before we volunteered to foster her and failed utterly as foster parents. She was judged to be "cat-safe".


One morning, though, I was trying to photograph Indy, our first cat, in the dining room. Sadie walked into the room to see what I was doing, stopped, turned to her left to look at him, and gave him a long, long sighthound stare. It lasted for some seconds although it felt like it would go on forever.

With light coming in through our back windows and rear door Sadie's face was nicely illuminated from her right; more light spilled onto the floor behind her which made her stand out from the otherwise somewhat dark background. I wanted to focus on her right eye since that's what stood out to me, and set my camera to aperture-priority to blur the background. I framed her head closely and placed her eyes about one-third down from the top edge of the viewfinder. At a focal length of 120mm the aperture was not going to be as open as I would want but if I fiddled with settings trying to make things perfect I'd miss the shot. So I took one picture, and here's the result:


I'm still stunned the picture was this clear at 1/10 second. VR really helps in this kind of situation.

(Shot with the Nikon D200 set to aperture-priority, using the 18-200mm zoom set at f/5.3; camera chose 1/10 sec at ISO 200; normal white balance; normal JPG.)


  1. Absolutely stunning shot! I will take that rule about focusing on the eyes and run with it, especially where Bunny and Blueberry are concerned. Bunny has those fascinating amber glass eyes that come with the blue dilute dogs a lot, and I think they're definitely one of her best features. I still remember the first time she looked at me with those peepers! Blueberry's eyes are two different colors, but it doesn't often show up.

    I've been trying to come up with a creative way to photograph Lilac lately. Every time the flash goes off, her whole body jerks. We giggle about it a little, but I also worry about giving the poor old lady a heart attack!

    I'm also wondering about getting ambitious today and getting a photo of all four dogs together since four elements is the Daily Shoot assignment for today. How do you focus on four sets of eyes at once?

  2. i've gotten away from using flash indoors, preferring to use natural light instead whenever possible. it's for outdoors on many (but not all) occasions i'll use flash to fill-in shadows.

    i'm going to assume you'll get all four dogs lined up abreast and standing far enough away in front of them. you can focus on the eyes on one of the inside dogs and not really worry about having the outside dog on either end be in focus. this is because the distance from the inside dogs to you is roughly the same as it is from the outside dogs to you. but if you're very close to all four instead, then the distance from the inside dogs to you is much shorter than from the outside dogs to you, which will cause the outside dogs to be less in focus.

    you can compensate for this by using a smaller lens aperture (like f/8, f/11, or smaller) for a greater depth of field, or by using a wide-angle lens (where pretty much everything is in focus).

  3. Yes, truly stunning ... and that is a very intense look! Greyhounds have such wonderful expressions.

    If I ever get another house it's going to have lots of big windows so I get some decent light inside.

  4. Heh! My days of getting all four lined up are probably long gone. Lilac can't stand for too long, so we try to figure out ways to have her laying down and work the rest of them around her. We did get it worked out. It wasn't pretty, but no dog was left behind! lol

  5. i can't imagine myself ever trying to get four to lie down together (as it is our city only allows a maximum of three dogs). it was a bit hard just trying to get five to stand still together when i was doing a photo session at gettysburg.

  6. I got a shot of five once, when we were dogsitting a good friend's pair of Greyhounds and we were at three of our own. It wasn't pretty either, but they were all in the shot! One good thing about living in such a rural area is that nobody wants to be told how many dogs they can have. I've gotten used to four, and we always seem to come back that number!

  7. we got used to having three (which is the maximum our city allows). we had three greys for five years and it seemed like it had always been that way.