Year of the Cat with Micro 4/3
by Pierre Arden
Yeah, I know what you want to say: “Cat pictures are boring. They are for amateurs with mobile phones. A cat pictures can never be considered as art.”
Is this really true? Cats are probably the most photographed creatures on earth and there must be a reason for that. Yes, they are cute. But as an owner of two cats I can tell they are so much more and it’s up to you to show that through the lens.
Disclaimer: Yes, I like dogs, too – I even make pictures of them, but cats are more mysterious and I am attracted to them a little more. Sorry dog lovers / cat haters ;).
So given the millions of cat pictures out there, how can one try to create some unique and inspirational cat photos? Well, I always try to “read” the cat and make pictures according to the character. It’s much easer if you have a bond of course or at least some street cat has an affection to you so being good with cats is a big plus (and a good way to have a chance to get near them).
But let’s start with my own cats: Of course I know them very well so I try to show some different sides of them which make them unique to me. McLovin (I know, the name…) is an impressive British Shorthair tom who can look like a boss but on the other hand also be very cute and persuasive when it comes to his favorite food. So most of the time he is lying around, making the room look nicer. So I use a longer focal length like my 45mm (90mm equivalent) on the Olympus PEN E-P5 or the OM-D EM-1. That lens is not to long for indoor shots if you don’t want much of the surrounding on the picture. I also used the Sony NEX 5r with the 50mm prime lens (75mm equivalent) in the past.
Since these cats trust me it’s easy to get near and make pictures so it’s always fun to use a fisheye lens with a short minimum focus distance for some nice close-up shots.
Wanda, my second cat, is more active than McLovin is – she is a Savannah so there are some wild cat genes left in her. Due to that I make pictures of her on the balcony or while playing fetch with me. I have a good view on the Frankfurt skyline so it’s possible include some nice background in the shots. She is very curious so there are lots of nice opportunities to make interesting pictures of her.
Before I talk about outdoor cats in the next part let’s see some pictures on Wanda and McLovin:
It’s more difficult to capture pictures of street cats. It’s often not possible to get near if they are shy and since you don’t know them and probably can’t spend much time with them you have no chance to get very deep into their character. I often use a longer lens like the brilliant M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 (150mm equivalent) on the Olympus E-M1 for some nice portraits. In this case I try to be on eye level with the cats to make them look more impressive, a tiltable screen on the camera helps a lot in this case. If you are lucky, you have nice surroundings you can include in the pictures, in this case I use a wider angle like the M.Zuiko 9-18mm (18-36 equivalent).
It can be very interesting to spot street cats in their areas and on my vacations I always look for some cats to make a scene more interesting. A cat makes every picture better ;).
In the following examples you can see some cats I met in Malta, Sicily, Portugal and Kyoto. Some of them were very shy, some were very relaxed (like the little cat in Malta):
A macro lens is a good chance to capture some of the amazing details a cat body has to offer. It’s not easy because you need to get very near and movement often makes the pictures unusable (and you don’t want to use flash on a cat eye!). The results are worth it though, I use the the M.Zuiko 60mm Macro lens from time to time to get a closer look at my cats. See some examples:
There are more ways to create nice cat pictures that stand out from all the mobil phone pictures out there but I think this is enough for some inspiration. You can see my complete set of cat pictures by following the link below:
Feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions, thanks for your attention!
I live in Frankfurt, Germany and when I’m not working in a bank I am a passionate travel photographer. You can see more of my pictures on my homepage www.ultraweit-verwinkelt.net where you can find pictures of Japanese cities like Tokyo, Nara and Koyasan as well as other places around the world (and pictures of cats, cats are important…). All photos are also available as prints and for licensing.
Overall I enjoied the work, but as my personal opinion, some picture are looking quite the same, they cold be eliminated of hte portfolio, once there lots of very good pictures. In theis case less (pictures) is more (impact).
excellent macro of the eye
I love cats, have one, shot her several times but these photos are stunning. Great job
Brilliant work never thought of using my macro with my cats 🙂
You should try – not on the butt though 😀
Great cats, awesome shots! Those cats are pretty cute. The shot where you can see your arms in the selfie like photo is great because the top of your head looks like its the top of the cats head the way it’s positioned. Looks like he’s got a cue bald top.
With that shot I actually nearly won 20.000,- Dollar in a selfie contest – unfortunately I was second-placed and only the winner got the cash 🙁
My favorite is the last of the “Street Cats” series with the cat hanging out on the post above street level. I would actually buy that and hang it on my wall. Nice work on the rest of the shots, too. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, Eric! Well, all the cat pictures are actually available for sale on my homepage so it’s just a click away ;): http://ultraweit-verwinkelt.smugmug.com/Galleries/Cats/i-xhKHHWz/A
Speaking as a dog person….these are great. You capture the wildness. Well written, also!
Thanks, especially for the “well written” part. Not being a native speaker I often consider my writing unpolished so thanks for this.
Pierre – these are wonderful pictures. My favorite is the one where you captured the cat’s eye from the side. Perfection!
Thanks! This seems to be a favorite of many people and I even used it for the logo on my homepage.
I think the first close-up of the cats eye is ASTONISHING, sehr geil!
Danke 🙂 – The eye close-up was rewarded by Olympus with an Oly PEN watch in a macro contest.
Some serious dedication to our furry feline friends!
Here’s a few shots of a street cat I took in Penang
Thanks – nice mood in these pictures!
I also like how you got up close and personal with the cat. I haven’t tried Macro yet because my usual subject is skittish.
I use the Lumix 20mm and Sigma 30mm. I might team up the 30 with some extension tubes.
The good thing is that cats sleep very much are often lazy ;). Extension tubes might work good, yes. The light loss might be a problem when it comes to the shutter speed indoors though.
McLovin 🙂 so funny.
Cats are so diverse in character like humans are and so what is true in portrait photography very much applies to cat photography as well.
Great images here. Thanks a lot.
I like the name, too ;). Thanks, I feel the same about cats – very diverse indeed.
Making a “Rollei” at the end there…
I’ll get my coat!
Cat photos – my guilty pleasure! Shhhhh…. don’t tell anyone. Thanks for posting!
You’re welcome – and we share the same guilty pleasure 😉
Love the macro shotsmofmthe cats eye and paws. I’m a micro four thirds user as well,and have the same macro lens, so you inspired me to photograph my cats more
Cool – show me some results, please!
Linda Martinson, the first poster, said it for me: I take dog pictures like a madman but these were the first cat pictures to ever really impress me. Pierre obviously has a secure channel to cats of every description (and non-description !).
– Subroto Mukerji, New Delhi, India
Glad to read this, thanks. I think I have a special bond to cats, yes :).
These are wonderful pictures of a beautiful animal. I really love the light in the first 3, and the macro eye shots are stunning! Thx for sharing them.
Thanks! The macro shots are not easy to make but it’s worth the efforts – just hope the cat is not very active when you try ;).
I’m really NOT a huge cat photo fan, but I have to say the macro shots are an interesting direction.
I don’t find any shame in shooting animal portraits with m4/3:
EXIF says Sony 5N?
Yes, I used that camera, too. I used lots of cameras in the past actually :).
Congratulations. your photos are out of this world!
Thanks! Much appreciated…
Some of these are lovely, thanks for Sharing!
You’re welcome, I’m glad you like them.
Even as a dog person, I really enjoyed this series — thanks! My favorites are your cat on the balcony, the orange and white cat who looks like he is about to pick up a stick and let you have it, and the cat on the street sign.
Thanks! i like dog, too 😀