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'Cats and bokeh.... no doubt someone will give me some shit for posting this but, as I pointed out recently to one person in Flickr who let me have both barrels with their 'not anther f***ing cat shot' comment...

A. I like cats.
B. I like street cats even more
C. They can look really cool if you catch them at the right moment
D. Everyone likes a cute animal shot, don't they?
E. Street cats are one of the things I 'collect' with my camera in Tokyo. We have a small apartment so collecting material things is not really an option anymore and anyway, after moving from the UK to Japan in 2007 I realised how much 'stuff' didn't really matter. You just end up clearing it out after a few years and it's a pain in the backside every time you decide to move house. It's good to 'collect' things with the your camera, as if you are looking for certain things you like all the time it helps keep your eye sharp to the world. And they form nice little ongoing sets or 'typologies'. Here's a link that will help explain what a typology is in photographic context:

http://japanorama.co.uk/2011/06/29/using-history-to-shape-the-now/

F. Cats can help pay the rent: I have now had a magazine feature and a commission from the BBC because of cats. Back to the point above about collecting things: they become something of an obsession. Obsessions can make you a 'specialist'. Magazine editors like specialists.... :-)

The tech details on this shot:
Nikon D700
Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 Ai
The black and white/sepia is done in-camera using the 'Dark Sepia' picture control which I made for my Nikon.
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58 comments
 
No shit given by me. It's your camera and you work it well.
 
The world might just end when I +1 a cat pic. Dang that's a good cat pic. What you using for b&w conversion?
 
Flickr users can be annoying sometimes. Keep doing what you are doing.
Ray So
 
+Alfie Goodrich Could you teach us or point me in the right direction for creating B&W picture controls for my Nikon D700? I used to only be a dog lover but I've recently developed a sweet spot for cats. I run in to a lot of street cats while out running and I love taking snapshots of them with my iphone.
 
I +1'd it...please don't tell anybody. Seriously, though this is pretty cool. Like an Atget cat.
 
love the cat shot, forget the cat haters they don't know what they are missing... meow.xxx
 
Ahhh, makes me long for a pet yet again. S/he looks adorable and love how you captured the expression.
 
Ah, I love collecting things with my camera too :). Especially useful when visiting ruins!
 
+Steve Gubin Thank you sir. Eugene Atget is one my heroes so that comment of yours makes me feel all warm and fuzzy :-)
 
Cats rule..don't let anyone else tell you otherwise
 
Great capture Alfie. I like the cat expression!
 
I totally agree with you "stuff" does not matter.... maybe it is one of the "aahaa's" on the road to self actualization
 
I think it's a great shot, tells a story. The cat is just the subject.
 
Street cats always run from me, so I end up getting their backsides in my pictures :(
 
The way I deal with excess pictures of cats is to unfollow.
 
+Mike Vore I'll try only to ever deliver an excess of quality :-) Cats, like everything else, are best in moderation.
 
Google Plus is your studio. If people dont like it, tough. I could care less if people unfollow me for posting what i want to post. Life is way too short to conform to crap like too many cat photo bitching..
 
Yes! Cats cats cats cats cats! All the time cats everywhere cats. This one is absolutely adorable, how can you resist those soul penetrating eyes? ok...calming down...lovely shot, thanks for posting this.
 
+James Barraford you'll never find me conforming. :-) I am who I am, I shoot what I like with whatever equipment is to hand. I always listen to what people have to say but at the end of the day it's other people's choice to not look at my work, not mine to stop putting it out there...
 
nice angle and moment, not sure the hyper focal control is all that necessary but then again... its just a matter of taste. edit - Just saying I like context to go with my subjects, what purpose does the bokeh and blurriness provide other than to direct attention on the subject, but why not then just crop the rest out? Sometimes I feel like too much unfocused content is distracting. Just my opinion :)
 
Hyper-focal control, +Alex Stratis ? - edit - yep, totally get that philosophy. But, subjects need breathing space and the space around this cat - especially with the wall angling in to the subject and drawing the eye - is what, for me, helps make this shot nice to look at. The background is just blurred: sure. But one has to work with the shapes, lines and luminosity of the stuff behind the subject to make it all work. The cat's head sits on a nicely darker part of the background. It's framed by the blur. The lines of the wall lead you in, you get the sharpness of the cat's face, cat begins to blur out and you have a background for it all to sit on. Your eyes don't crop, really. You see objects on a background. For me these large aperture lenses make me see potential in the background to act as a sympathetic canvas on which to place my picked-out subject. :-)
 
Love this image! That curious and innocent look from the cat is very eye catching. The color tone is very nice! Just wonder do you shoot this at F/1.2 wide open? I still not able to get my image to be this sharp when I shot with my F/1.2 AIS wide open..... Thanks for sharing. Greetings from Singapore!
 
Yay, cats! No, seriously, I love cats. I use to have three till I moved (you can find some shots on my flickr, I think) and I always go out of my way to pet a stray.

So please, post more cats! And especially with pictures of this quality; this is just amazing with the mood it conveys and the story that can be taken from it.
 
Well, I'm not a cat fan (dog person), but if people give you shit about your shots "fuck off" is likely the first thing that should (probably does) cross your fingers.

Either way, the pure expression on the cat and the grunge of the background is stunning. Perfect regardless of subject.
 
+Chen Siong Chong Yes, it's shot wide open at 1.2
As for sharpness.. I guess it's just a matter of practice and perseverance. This lens is a bitch to focus and one way I aid that process is with Katzeye split-screen in my camera, which I installed. Makes manual focus a whole load more satisfying and it's how I focused before digital so I missed the screen in my DSLRs when I got them and it was the first thing I did, to put the Katzeyes in each of them. The other thing about focusing this lens is that it gets easier at 1.2 the closer the subject is to you. Middle-distance or far focusing at 1.2 is very tricky and not something I really do a lot of anyway as it's at close range when the bokeh really pops with this lens. There is a tiny bit of selective sharpening on this, using Nik Sharpener. I apply my sharpening only to areas that are sharp in the original picture, brushing it on those areas instead of applying globally. Sharpening stuff that isn't sharp already makes shots look awful. So the final bit of the sharpness is applied in post, once I have resized the image for web. I only sharpen at the point of output: i.e. make the web sized or print sized version, then sharpen. The final edited file sits there unsharpened until I have a use for it and the sharpening is done specific to that use. Nik Sharpener allows me to even set viewing distance, which is very helpful as I do a lot of pics for large murals. If the shot isn't meant to be looked at from less than 6ft away, no point sharpening it to look sharp at 2ft. :-)
 
+Alfie Goodrich - Sorry, that's the actual size. She had wondered a ways away and I pulled out my iPhone to snap the shot. The crop was kind of small. I just really liked the fuzzy outline, at any size.

It was the first line of this post that reminded me of it: Cats and bokeh. This was my one shot that captured the goodness of both. ;-)
 
I love cats and street cats intrigue me, where do they go and where have they come from? Are they alone? The mystery of the domesticated animal in public is magnified by the inherit demeanor of the feline, solitary and yet super social. This paradox always makes for a good picture :)
 
+Alfie Goodrich thanks for the pointers man! By the way just a quick question, does the Katzeyes affect the camera's metering and other functionality in anyway? Glad to see another photographer with 1.2 AI/AIS lens, its a gem :)
 
+Alfie Goodrich, you got me excited with the Katzeye split-screen, but alas they don't have one for the 5DMkII... I've been looking at getting an old Asahi 50mm F/1.4, but nervous about manual focus. The split screen would be when I learned on film.
 
+Chen Siong Chong Skews the spot meter by about 1/3 or 1/2 a stop in certain situations. No other functionality impairment. It does though, in Japan at least, technically nullify your warranty to install one. Which is f***ing daft as why have interchangeable screens without being able to change them? Yes, it's a non-Nikon part but come on? WTF? Anyway, I take my camera to Nikon to get the sensor cleaned and serviced about once every six months. My guy there just smiled at me when he spotted the screen and said 'hey, no problem'. Nikon used to make a whole load of screens for their F-series Film SLRs. They dont make any now for the DSLRS apart from the standard fit screen. So, if you dont want people to change it... dont make it interchangeable!
 
I really like your idea of collecting things with your camera... Such a great way of following another passion by interim. Your picture has so much emotional impact to it, it looks awesome!
 
wonderful cat portrait.
btw I think you will find most people won't give you B.S about cat portraits, here on G+ the folks just really appreciate good photography. a strange concept I know. the G+ comunity of photographers ( that I have met and in my own circles) are all really amazing supportive and encouraging people
 
This photo oozes in confidence and cuteness in equal measure
 
+Alfie Goodrich thanks for the link to the picture controls. That's something I've never even tried before. I've always just shot raw and then modified it on the computer. I going to try that out.
Cyrus K
 
great picture - and well done focusing the 50mm 1.2 - I know it takes practice !
 
Wonderful, Alfie! Those who know me know I love cats!
 
+Alfie Goodrich I have to agree with you on this...Cat Photography is what I do and I love every minute of it. I have had a couple of people give me a hard time about it but only a couple and it's ok because I love what I do and it absolutely pays the bills. I like taking pictures of just about everything but I love taking pictures of cats and that is what comes through within my work and I see it in your work as well.
This shot is lovely....so much more than "just another cat shot". Thanks for this post.
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