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Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics [Re: psmith] #20579
02/22/09 08:06 PM
02/22/09 08:06 PM
Joined: Nov 2008
Kansas
psmith Offline
Pooh-Bah
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Pooh-Bah

Joined: Nov 2008
Kansas
Barbra..it looks like you have quite a few purebred rescues, are these pets that people are dropping off? Times are getting tough for people, and even tougher on their pets.

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics [Re: psmith] #20580
02/22/09 09:13 PM
02/22/09 09:13 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
TN
Julie Offline
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TN
If Helmi sold her set up as a kit, you probably would be looking between 5-7k.

I have read where cat photographer prefer hot lights because it constricts the pupils showing more of the eyes. I do not specialize in cats, so, who knows. I think Psmith is right though, they would be less bothersome than strobes.

The cats I have photographed have not been bothered by strobes, but, really, the people who bring me cats bring me really quiet ones

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics [Re: Julie] #20581
02/22/09 10:18 PM
02/22/09 10:18 PM
Joined: Feb 2009
NY
AdoptAPet Offline OP
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AdoptAPet  Offline OP
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NY
There are some days that no matter what I did I just could not get light that was even workable. Colors were not accurate and most shots seemed to have a blue haze over them. I have used the lights in every position I could think of. I personally have a fondness for the pointed cats, so it means a photographing a lot of blue eyes and I have found that a light head on to the cat seems to be best for that.

It has been quite awhile, but I think I had one umbrella behind me facing at the cat and the reflector at one point was off to a side and then I think also used to bounce off the ceiling. Honestly, it has been too long, but I would be surprised if I didn?t try everything possible at one point or another. Oh and let?s not even talk about BLACK cats. I can?t rescue them only because I am unable to get any pictures of them. That is the worst! Yet it?s funny, because now after the past couple of days looking at all the pro shots I see that a purple background with a light behind the cat produces a gorgeous photo!

I tried to look back through my files for one of those bad days where nothing worked (with and without the camera flash and the lights). It wasn?t easy because of lack of drive space I delete most of the garbage. I was able to find a day of the ?blue haze.? I remember how frustrated I was. I kept thinking it had to be a white balance problem, but I tried every setting for ?WB? I could find. Nothing helped.

















Later that day (or maybe even the next morning) when window light changed and was somewhat better I was able to get these:





?shy and intimidated? hahahhahahaha not the ones that come here. I almost wish they were as they might sit still in fear for a minute or two.

Barbra

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics [Re: AdoptAPet] #20582
02/22/09 10:37 PM
02/22/09 10:37 PM
Joined: Feb 2009
NY
AdoptAPet Offline OP
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AdoptAPet  Offline OP
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Joined: Feb 2009
NY
Over the years of rescue I have met quite a few interesting people that have assisted my goals in one way or another. I have become friendly with a woman you writes an online magazine for breeders and show people.

I contact her when I run into severe birthing problems (and believe me that is often) since I rescue so many pregnant cats. All she deals with (she is also a breeder) is pedigree cats she gets crazy when I call some of these rescues ?Siamese? (like the pictures in my first post). She corrects me?. ?They are pointed cats.?

Anyway, the Birman in the photos was (he crossed over almost a year ago due to FIP) my purchased show cat. There is so must daily heartache and loss in what I do that I wanted to find something I get into with the cats that would be fun and bring happiness, so I was going to start showing at some of the more local shows. LOL just my luck the kitty I purchased was loaded with ringworm and lost patches of hair. It grew back in as a brown patch on a white coat. And there went my show career.

I have a rescued ?pedigree? Persian here that was dumped at the kill shelter for peeing and spraying everywhere. On occasion a pedigree with papers does show up, but for the most part the cats are look-a-likes (albeit some gorgeous ?fakes?).

Owner surrender has been higher than I have ever seen. What is worse is that we are finding so many altered and declawed cats on the streets, which means many people are just opening the door and letting their cats (try) to fend for themselves. It is so sad.

Julie ? I am not really sure what the ?strobe? lights are so I can?t comment. I am willing to use whatever will produce the shot technically and I will figure out how to get the cats to do what I need them to.

I would love to ask you more questions about the paper, but I won?t put the cart before the horse just yet.

Barbra

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics [Re: AdoptAPet] #20583
02/23/09 12:36 AM
02/23/09 12:36 AM
Joined: Jan 2006
Alaska
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DavidRamey Offline
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Joined: Jan 2006
Alaska
Part of your problem is the mixing of different temperatures of light!! You are using sunlight through a window (approx. 5600K) and hot lights (approx. 2700K to 3600K). This is why you can't get a good white balance. If you are going to use hot lights (tungsten) then block off that window to keep from poluting your scene with a different color cast of light. If you use tungsten, then make sure your bulbs are all the same manufacturer and the same age so that all your lights will be putting out the same white balance. To be able to use both kinds of light together, you would have to either filter the light from the hot lights to match daylight using filters of acetate called "gels" or filter the window to match the hot lights. It isn't worth the effort. More hot lights are cheaper and easier to use.


David Ramey Photography
Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics [Re: DavidRamey] #20584
02/23/09 12:55 AM
02/23/09 12:55 AM
Joined: Feb 2009
NY
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Joined: Feb 2009
NY
Okay that makes sense, BUT... I have also tried it at night and it is no better. Sometimes it's quite different, but no better.

Barbra

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics [Re: AdoptAPet] #20585
02/23/09 01:25 AM
02/23/09 01:25 AM
Joined: Jan 2006
Alaska
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DavidRamey Offline
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Barbra,
Studio lighting is not that hard of a concept. You are controlling exposure and controlling shadows. Once you know what the exposure is for your lighting setup, then put your camera on MANUAL to keep the exposure the same. With hot lights, your white balance should be somewhere between 2700K and 3600K. I can't tell you which because I am not there to test your set up. Using hot lights, the bulbs are on all the time so that you can see where the shadows are falling. Even at night, the light coming from that window is poluting your scene. If you don't want to block off that window, then buy studio strobes (Alien Bees, White Lightning, Pro Foto, Photogenics, etc.). At least then, the window won't be polluting your light scene with a different white balance.

To measure the exposure, you should have a light meter.

Are all your lights the same manufacturer? Are your bulbs all the same manufacturer? If they aren't, then each light could be putting out a different white balance.

Do you know the difference between a main light, hair light, fill light, background light? Do you know what the job of each of those lights are?

I use studio strobes (White Lightning). I also use camera flash when I need to. I also have a set of hot lights. My hot lights are nothing more than clamp on shop lights that takes a screw in incandescent bulb. I have bulbs from 15 watts to 100 watts. I use GE soft white bulbs. I have 6 hot lights bought at the same time, all the same brand. My bulbs are all the same age. As incandescent bulbs age, their white balance changes. This is why I keep all my bulbs the same age. I probably have spent less than $100.00 for my hot light set up.

To fix your problem we have to identify the variables and eliminate them. It is the only way to have consistent light.


David Ramey Photography
Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics [Re: DavidRamey] #20586
02/23/09 01:46 PM
02/23/09 01:46 PM
Joined: Feb 2009
NY
AdoptAPet Offline OP
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AdoptAPet  Offline OP
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Joined: Feb 2009
NY
David,

I am willing to block off the windows, move to another room or do whatever it takes to make this work. I am that serious about it.

Regarding the lights and bulbs. I bought a package off eBay that consisted of the two lights, 2 tripods, two umbrellas (which are pretty much shot right now) and a carry case. No bulbs were included and the ?seller? told me to go out and get regular bulbs. I bought two ?GE Basic? 300W bulbs at the same time and have pretty much used both lights together.

It sounds from your post that I have way too much light and here I thought I didn?t quite have enough. Shows you how much trouble I am in.

Now it appears from what you are saying about the white balance I am going to need to upgrade my camera now. The choices I have are auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, fluorescent H and custom. Additionally, there is a way to adjust exposure compensation.

I am not really familiar with light meters, so can you recommend what I need (and where to get it). Then of course I will need to know how to use it. LOL I know this is not easy, but remember all of you were new at one time too :-)

?Do you know the difference between a main light, hair light, fill light, background light? Do you know what the job of each of those lights are??

Not really.

Thanks so much,
Barbra

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics [Re: AdoptAPet] #20587
02/23/09 02:21 PM
02/23/09 02:21 PM
Joined: May 2008
Virginia, USA
Jim Poor Offline
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Joined: May 2008
Virginia, USA
I'm going to take a totally different approach.


Here are my assumptions:

At this point you are looking to produce photos that show the cats in their best light, rather that works of art that are to be printed on canvass and hung in a gallery.


You're not looking to go into the cat photography business as this point.

OK,

The two lights you have are probably just fine, but adding a third wouldn't hurt.

The lights don't have to be "photography" lights. In fact, the lights you have are little different than a shop light like you can get from your local home improvement store, save probably from the built in capability to take an umbrella.

I used home depot lights for my rescue (dog) photography and even my first couple of paid fund raising events, so they work just fine.

I'd recommend switching to the Compact florescent bulbs, but tungsten will work too. The main advantage to the CFL bulbs is that they don't get so hot so they are easy to handle.

Have you tried bouncing the light off the ceiling and or wall? What about a white piece of foam-board or construction paper held to the side of your subject?

I know nothing about your camera but if you can set a custom white balance based on the light you use, that would help with the "blue haze." If not, most of the photo processing programs out there have a white balance adjustment that is easy to use.

Shooting in RAW would be a good thing if you have the software to process raw files (I don't even know if your camera will shoot raw, so it may be a moot point).

Backgrounds:

You don't need anything fancy for this type of work.

A solid colored bed sheet (or piece of fabric from Jo Ann's) will work fine with something the size of a cat.
Depending on how you feel about the wrinklens and folds in the material, you could simply drape it over a couch or chair like a seat cover.

If you want to remove the folds and wrinkles you could use a kitchen table and a couple chairs to help stretch the fabric and hold it smoother.

Then, there is seamless background paper. I think a 4-foot wide roll would be plenty for cats (I've done it with dogs on a 4 foot roll too, but you have to be careful of the edges).

Hope all this helps.

Re: SAVE A LIFE! ? Need to know basics [Re: AdoptAPet] #20588
02/23/09 02:31 PM
02/23/09 02:31 PM
Joined: Nov 2008
Kansas
psmith Offline
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Joined: Nov 2008
Kansas
Hi Barbra,

I think the mixed results that you are getting probably has to do with your camera settings as much as anything. It looks as though you have put most of the camera in 'automatic'. Correct me if I'm wrong.

If you would like to try a few experiments and post the results maybe we could help you come up with a recipe to get consistent good photos and hopefully save the kitties.

Here are a few suggestions just to try to see what is going on. Get out the camera manual, if you don't have it then download one at http://gdlp01.c-wss.com/gds/0900001482/S230IXUSV3CUG-EN.pdf

Change a few settings:

Set your shooting mode to MANUAL (p 42)

Turn off digital zoom

Try Switching to spot metering (p 63)- your camera has a light meter built in, when you prefocus be sure to focus on cat fur not the background...the prefocus is also locking exposure.

Switch the White balance to TUNGSTEN (pg 67), if that doesn't work you can do a CUSTOM white balance

Switch Photo Effects OFF (p 70)

Set the ISO speed to 50 (p 71) (makes for a cleaner picture assuming you have enough light)

Turn the flash off (p 47)

Draw the blinds over your windows and turn off any bright lights. Position your two lights, umbrellas on either side of your shooting position and slightly higher than your photo subject, point the light directly at the subject.

Take a shot or two and evaluate the exposure. Adjust accordingly ( p 64)

Tell us what works and doesn't work. The color of the cat should not matter.

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