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Cats by Don Lewis

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Cuff Desmond 1 Cuss Desmond 2

Durango Catrina Dilvey Tubby

Panzer Renfield Pearl Colette

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Don Lewis is a professional photographer with experience in portraiture and medical photography. Photographing cats in natural settings has been a personal project of his for the last twelve years.

On photographing cats

Copyright 2002 by Don Lewis

"The colors and markings of the African wildcat are, detail for detail, those of the well-known tabby pattern of the domestic cat." - Encyclopedia Britannica.

To me, there is something engaging in seeing a picture of a cat in a natural setting. It has drama. We weave little scenarios around it. Is the cat hunting? Being hunted? Natural settings seem to emphasize the cat's photogenic qualities.

In our backyard tabbies, it's not difficult to see a reflection of their larger, fearsome cousins. Tabby, fawn, spotted and black are all types of coats that domestic cats share with wild felines.

When photographing cats outdoors, especially in foliage, it is frequently necessary to use electronic flash to supplement the existing light. I usually bounce the flash off a large reflector, creating an illuminated area within the foliage. This method presents a number of problems, the most notable of which - as anyone who has photographed cats knows - is getting the cat to occupy the illuminated area. The key to a successful photograph lies in obtaining a subtle balance between natural and artificial light.

During the winter months, I photograph my cats indoors, using props such as rocks and potted plants to create the appearance of natural settings. When shooting active, elusive subjects such as cats, a certain amount of time spent patiently observing through the viewfinder is a necessity. However, you may find the observing to be an enjoyable activity in itself. As the French writer, Colette, observed, "Time spent with cats is never wasted." So, after a hard day in your backyard jungle, take off your pith helmet, have a gin and tonic and congratulate yourself on a day well spent.


Don can be reached at [email protected].

Don Lewis - cat photographer extraordinaire.
Don Lewis - cat photographer extraordinaire.