morning has broken

Bo — What’s happening up there?

This morning was very unusual weather-wise. We woke up to a local temperature of 59°F. For a lot of you around the northern climes, that’s probably hot to you. But for those of us Down South, a low 59°F in the morning at the end of April in central Florida is unusual enough to write about it. This same time last week the morning lows were a good 10 to 15 degrees higher, and a lot muggier. I’m certainly not one to complain as it has been a wonderful morning to just open up the house to the outside for a bit. Of course, it’s cool enough that Bo and Luke want to fluff up in their turkey positions to stay warm.

Bo — What is that up there?

Bo seemed to be entranced with something outside the screened in area. So I went out to look around and found this:

Yep, that’s a jet contrail. I haven’t spotted one in weeks. And I didn’t hear the jet that produced it when it went over, so I’m assuming it was at a fairly high altitude. Whether Bo heard it and was watching it, I’ll never be completely sure. But I would never have spotted it unless he was looking up intently at that moment in time.

Luke — What’s for breakfast?

Luke was at his Breakfast Cat station on the edge of the kitchen sink. That’s the spot he knows where he can sit and watch everything without getting in my way, and pushed back onto the floor where cats should be. But this is Luke, who’s a Ginger, with a gentle Ginger ‘tude.

Annie the Living Muppet

What would our household be without our Doodle? Annie is now a big five, and has come into her own. She’s calmed quite a bit, but she still likes to jump up and walk around on her hind legs with her forepaws out batting at me and the air in front of her. It’s the circus Poodle part that wants to perform, I’m sure of it. And all that Poodle-derived curly hair. Our living Muppet.

Time to clean up and let the girls lick the breakfast plates clean. Eggs over easy as usual, and they love to lick up any leftover yolk. And then more of today’s happenings.

the secret to “normal” cat photos

Olympus Pen F with Panasonic Leica 1.4/25mm

In the last post, Marc Beebe ( asked:

Tell us the secret of how you get your cat to look normal: mine always pose goofy, even when they aren’t posing.

To be honest, there are no hard and fast rules to photographing cats to produce “normal” photos. Normal is always going to be in the eye of the beholder. I can’t offer any hard-and-fast rules, but what I am about to offer are, to quote Hector Barbossa in “Pirates”, “what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.”

First get yourself a camera that feels comfortable to use. It doesn’t have to be fool frame, or micro four thirds, or APS-C, or any given sensor size or brand. I use Olympus because that’s what I like to work with. If you’ve got a piece of hardware you’re afraid to really use and get to know, then you’ll never get the best out of the hardware, you, or the subject. I have several cameras scattered about, but when it comes to little creature candids I reach for the Olympus Pen F with a prime on the front, either the 17mm or the 25mm. That’s a picture of the setup at the start taken with the Panasonic Lumix G9 and Lumix 30mm macro using the G9’s built-in Monochrome.D.

A comfortable camera is a camera you easily learn all about. You learn how its various modes work, and you learn a bit of about its many buried features. For the Pen F I learned to put the camera into silent mode so that it makes no sound when the shutter it tripped. The only part that makes any sound is the PL 25mm when it’s focusing, and then it’s rather quiet. The other feature I’ve enabled is touch-to-focus-and-expose on the LCD. That way I can frame with the rear LCD and then touch right where I want focus to take place during the exposure. The Pen F is for my purposes fast and silent, which sounds like it shouldn’t matter for resting cats, but you’d be surprised. Their faces are always active, and then there’s those moments where they aren’t lying about.

As for the animal subjects, keep the camera around so they get used to seeing it. Then start using it so they get to seeing you with it. They’ll reach a point where they don’t care and are relaxed when you pick up the camera. With everything set to silent, no sudden moves, and familiarity with you using the camera, the little guys will begin to just hang about while you take photos. Know that you’re going to get a lot of bad photos, and if you’re honest, when you go back to chimp, you’re going to curate and delete a lot of them before you pull any of them off the camera. Once off the camera and in some sort of post process, you’re going to curate and remove even more.

I’m sure there’s more to recommend, but the key things to emphasize are silence, lots of practice, steady familiarity, and patience on your part.

The Eyes of Bo are Upon You