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BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: All About Photography : Photographing Specific Subjects : Animals, Pets, & Wildlife Photography

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Photography Question 
Manetta M. Argue-Raab

member since: 12/15/2005
 

My Cat Shuts Her Eyes


I bought my first digital camera. The cat shuts her eyes when the flash goes off, even from a distance. The camera has a red, laser-like "focus" light. Could this be the problem? The cat never did this when photographed with a film camera. Thank you very much!

12/15/2005 5:58:42 PM

 
Brendan Knell
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/17/2005
  Did you use a flash with the film camera? Try using the same shutter speeds as on the film camera. I doubt that it is the focusing laser. If none of this works, just try and get the room bright enough so you don't need a flash.

12/15/2005 6:08:13 PM

 
Bob Fately

member since: 4/11/2001
  It could well be that the preflash focusing light on your digital (which your film camera probably didn't have) is the warning for your cat to shut her eyes. To her, the flash is likely not a pleasant thing to experience - and like Pavlov's dog, she has learned that when the orange-y light goes on that nasty flash will go off a moment after. What about just raising the ambient light in the room so to eliminate the need for the flash?

12/15/2005 7:09:59 PM

 
Brendan Knell
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/17/2005
  Bob, I've turned off the focusing laser, and they still shut their eyes.

12/15/2005 7:17:05 PM

 
Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Sharon
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member since: 6/27/2004
  I have a Nikon D70. I was having that problem as well and it was the preflash causing it with my dog. When I figured out how to change it, my dog stopped blinking.

12/15/2005 7:50:29 PM

 
Carolyn  M. Fletcher
BetterPhoto Member
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PickYourShots.com

member since: 10/6/2001
  Get a new cat and start over. Once they are flashed, they will never again look at the camera and you are reduced to catching them when they are sleeping. They hate flash.

12/16/2005 4:25:04 AM

 
Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Sharon
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member since: 6/27/2004
  LOL Carolyn! My sister's husband was holding their cat for a pic once. I thought he was going to scratch both our eyes out. I never tried taking his pic again, and he's a pretty cat.

12/16/2005 5:44:06 AM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  Good answer, Carolyn! (A used cat is a whole lot cheaper than a new camera.) :)
That point notwithstanding, I agree that increasing the ambient light (or the ISO) would eliminate the need for flash and solve your dilemma.

12/16/2005 6:24:27 PM

 
Denyse Clark
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/2/2002
  (Get a new cat and start over.) LOL, that was great, made me laugh right out loud. I have 3 cats at home and one at my office... The best shots are always in ambient light for me. I shoot both 35mm and digital, and it seems to be the same regardless. They are much more relaxed and stay in the position I'm trying to capture by not scaring them with the flash. Mine are indoors only, but I take them out on leashes (always 100% supervised) and get some great shots outside.

12/20/2005 9:37:10 AM

 
Abby Way
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/27/2005
  LOL! I doubt s/he'd be very impressed at being replaced! :-D
Our two cats have always been photogenic - one (Merlin) will even hold a pose till the shutter clicks, then strike another cute/ferocious pose. He seems to get a kick out of it! The other is a little shy, but neither seems to have that problem. Perhaps it's because they have been photographed since a very young age, so they've gotten used to it.
Most of my pictures are taken without flash, with the room lights on or the window shades open. Maybe if you get her used to having the flash nearby - i.e., photographing objects in the same room, then gradually start taking pictures of her, she might adjust. Or perhaps at food time, she might be more friendly and less prone to blinking.
Hope that helps. :-)

12/20/2005 12:41:49 PM

 
Chris McCoy

member since: 11/10/2005
  First of all, I am no camera expert but I've had the same problem. Using the Digital Rebel and a 420ex flash. What I found out is that the flash actually shoots a pre-flash to determine correct exposure, then I hit the "AE LOCK" and took a shot... no more kitty squinting. So I'd say, check out your camera manual and find out how it determines exposure and if there is any way to manually set it or lock it. Hope this helps =)

12/21/2005 5:01:13 PM

 
Taylor 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/25/2004
  My cat always blinked also.

1/2/2006 4:50:17 PM

 
Piotr M. Organa
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/12/2004
  Just do not use on-camera flash, Manetta! I have my D70 for almost a year and never touched it yet. Serious. :):)

1/2/2006 8:52:04 PM

 
Sylvia Rossler
BetterPhoto Member
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vivid-imagination-pictures.com

member since: 7/6/2005
  I can only agree with Piotr!! Every time I used my on-camera flash, they instinctly close their eyes. When I use the external flash, no problems... big black cat eyes :o)

1/3/2006 2:52:55 PM

 
Manetta M. Argue-Raab

member since: 12/15/2005
  I would like to thank all of you for your responses to my cat-shuts-her-eyes dilemma! I tried turning off the AF illuminator, turning off the red eye reduction feature and fussing with the AE Lock feature but the cat still shut her eyes. Then I tried turning up the room lights and not using the flash at all, and that works!! Her eyes are narrowed because she hates me now, but they're open! I guess I was just used to using an instant, auto-everything film camera all my life, and had no idea you could take pictures indoors without some kind of a flash. I can't thank all of you enough for your help. I am SO impressed with this website - it's just the greatest! Happy New Year to all of you!

1/3/2006 5:34:54 PM

 
Bob Fately

member since: 4/11/2001
  Before you start the guilt trip in 2006, Manetta, your cat's not mad at you. It's just that with more ambient light, her pupils narrow - just like your's do in brighter light and they become dilated in the darker environments. Human pupils are round, and cats' have slit-like pupils, so it looks different - but it's the same thing. So Happy New Year back atcha!

1/3/2006 5:41:46 PM

 

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