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Thread: Cat Action Shot Tips

  1. #1
    solitarylady's Avatar
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    Cat Action Shot Tips

    Cat Action Shot Tips

    I'd really appreciate any tips you may have for catching sharp action images, this was a very lucky capture taken with the sports setting. Also could I improve this any with photoshop or equivalent (currently using I-photo with a view to investing in 'Aperture' - daunting!!!) I've been avoiding going down that route, but after reading several other threads can see that it has it's uses - would this be a suitable candidate?

    Many thanks

    'Sponge ready to absorb'

  2. #2
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    Re: Cat Action Shot Tips

    Hi Lisa,

    REALLY nice shot! You can improve the image a good amount in Photoshop,I'm not familiar with Aperture,but I'm sure it's a very capable program also.
    Sport mode worked well.Shutter speed was at 1/500",plenty fast for this shot.Spot metering would have exposed the cat better,but the sky would have blown.
    I had a quick play with the photo and there's no problem with processing it into a very nice photo.

  3. #3
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    Re: Cat Action Shot Tips

    Hi Lisa and welcome to CiC.

    Great action shot and I kinda like the semi silhouette. The only way to get this sharper would have been a faster shutter. The EXIF data shows the shutter fired at 500th sec. One more stop – 1,000 sec, would have done it. But I am sure with some processing, adding a little sharpening and contrast, will improve it a lot. But post processing will not fix bad capture and you have framed this all very nicely.

    I agree with Jim that spot metering would have done a better job on the cat but I am not a fan of spot metering. Try seeing the shot, framing the shot and trying to get the spot meter on the cat while it is moving , etc, etc. All too hard. Shot gone and the memory only lives on in your head.

    Matrix or pattern metering is fine. This was a grab shot and what you get is what you get but you can pull back a lot of detail in post production and make this into a fine shot. Had you had time to get a good exposure then there are adjustment to exposure compensation that would help.

    Keep posting.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Cat Action Shot Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by solitarylady View Post
    Cat Action Shot Tips

    I'd really appreciate any tips you may have for catching sharp action images, this was a very lucky capture taken with the sports setting. Also could I improve this any with photoshop or equivalent (currently using I-photo with a view to investing in 'Aperture' - daunting!!!) I've been avoiding going down that route, but after reading several other threads can see that it has it's uses - would this be a suitable candidate?

    Many thanks

    'Sponge ready to absorb'
    Hi Lisa,

    Great shot by the way, but you asked for advice...
    Unfortunately most of it is PP advice.
    As I am not familiar enough with your camera, I can't really advise on that, you already seem to be doing 'OK' (bit of an understatement )

    While a higher shutter speed would help avoid the cat being any softer**, it would also sharpen up the pan blur on the nasty sharp things* at the bottom of frame, which I think contributes to the shot, so that might be counter productive.

    ** The cat does look quite sharp to me (compared to foreground), so you must have been reasonably accurate keeping up with it in flight.

    I'm afraid I am a Photoshop user and hence from a RAW image file, in ACR, Fill Light would have been the best bet to recover detail in the cat's body - I have no idea whether Aperture has that feature.

    The first thought I had was "fill flash would help", but that would have also frozen the pan blur on the fixed parts of the shot too. Also, on a non-DSLR, turning flash on would probably confuse the automatics of the camera and you would end up not in sports mode, it would also, with anything but topline flashes (even on a DSLR), lower the shutter speed to 1/200 or less and probably result in a totally flash lit shot, or one with some dim blur around a sharp well exposed bits - not a good idea, so scratch that flash idea (unless you're Colin he'd know how to do it )

    * I hope no cats were impaled during this session

    I had a play in CS5 (although Elements at one tenth the price would have done the same) and here's what I achieved:

    Cat Action Shot Tips

    Levels adjustment of grey point (1.3)
    Local Contrast Enhancement (20%, 40px radius)
    Levels adjustment of grey point (1.2)
    Clone out tree above rocks
    Sharpen with USM 130%, 0.3 radius, 5 threshold (latter because it's a jpg)
    Increased saturation (+20)

    I might recrop losing 10% on left hand side, but didn't do that as it would make comparison in Lytebox here at CiC with your original more difficult.

    Hope that helps,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 2nd February 2011 at 10:25 AM.

  5. #5
    solitarylady's Avatar
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    Re: Cat Action Shot Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Hi Lisa,

    REALLY nice shot! You can improve the image a good amount in Photoshop,I'm not familiar with Aperture,but I'm sure it's a very capable program also.
    Sport mode worked well.Shutter speed was at 1/500",plenty fast for this shot.Spot metering would have exposed the cat better,but the sky would have blown.
    I had a quick play with the photo and there's no problem with processing it into a very nice photo.
    Many thanks for taking the time to respond Jim, seems like I might be deleting lots of 'improvable shots', I confess the thought of learning how to use manipulation software stuff is daunting as I'm only just beginning to comprehend how 'amateur' I am with my camera! Positive thinking girl, see it as a challenge, grab the bull by the horns and all that jazz. Again thanks for the advice, you may find I'll be asking for more as my quest to improve continues.

    P.S - How did you view the EXIF data?

  6. #6
    solitarylady's Avatar
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    Re: Cat Action Shot Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    Hi Lisa and welcome to CiC.

    Great action shot and I kinda like the semi silhouette. The only way to get this sharper would have been a faster shutter. The EXIF data shows the shutter fired at 500th sec. One more stop 1,000 sec, would have done it. But I am sure with some processing, adding a little sharpening and contrast, will improve it a lot. But post processing will not fix bad capture and you have framed this all very nicely.

    I agree with Jim that spot metering would have done a better job on the cat but I am not a fan of spot metering. Try seeing the shot, framing the shot and trying to get the spot meter on the cat while it is moving , etc, etc. All too hard. Shot gone and the memory only lives on in your head.

    Matrix or pattern metering is fine. This was a grab shot and what you get is what you get but you can pull back a lot of detail in post production and make this into a fine shot. Had you had time to get a good exposure then there are adjustment to exposure compensation that would help.

    Keep posting.
    Hi Peter

    I really do feel welcome, and appreciate you taking the time to add more drops to my sponge. As you state, this was a definite 'grab shot', I was trying to take photos for an online course I'd just enrolled in, when Snarf came up behind me and jumped onto the wall behind the garage, I'd never seen him on the roof - but could just tell he was going to jump, in a blind panic, I managed to turn to the sports setting and pan with him as he jumped, I was chuffed to bits with the result, but a couple of months down the line realise it wasn't as good as it could have been.

    If I'm honest, I'm not even sure what the default Ap & SS are in the sports setting of my camera, never mind what metering setting was used (Think I should get the manual out again) - I take it you are talking about using the manual setting function - aperture priority is as far as I've been confident enough to experiment with so far, think it might be a while before I can apply all of the above confidently in advance, but I will keep trying - Thanks again for your comments.

    Lisa

  7. #7
    solitarylady's Avatar
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    Re: Cat Action Shot Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Hi Lisa,

    Great shot by the way, but you asked for advice...
    Unfortunately most of it is PP advice.
    As I am not familiar enough with your camera, I can't really advise on that, you already seem to be doing 'OK' (bit of an understatement )

    While a higher shutter speed would help avoid the cat being any softer**, it would also sharpen up the pan blur on the nasty sharp things* at the bottom of frame, which I think contributes to the shot, so that might be counter productive.

    ** The cat does look quite sharp to me (compared to foreground), so you must have been reasonably accurate keeping up with it in flight.

    I'm afraid I am a Photoshop user and hence from a RAW image file, in ACR, Fill Light would have been the best bet to recover detail in the cat's body - I have no idea whether Aperture has that feature.

    The first thought I had was "fill flash would help", but that would have also frozen the pan blur on the fixed parts of the shot too. Also, on a non-DSLR, turning flash on would probably confuse the automatics of the camera and you would end up not in sports mode, it would also, with anything but topline flashes (even on a DSLR), lower the shutter speed to 1/200 or less and probably result in a totally flash lit shot, or one with some dim blur around a sharp well exposed bits - not a good idea, so scratch that flash idea (unless you're Colin he'd know how to do it )

    * I hope no cats were impaled during this session

    I had a play in CS5 (although Elements at one tenth the price would have done the same) and here's what I achieved:

    Cat Action Shot Tips

    Levels adjustment of grey point (1.3)
    Local Contrast Enhancement (20%, 40px radius)
    Levels adjustment of grey point (1.2)
    Clone out tree above rocks
    Sharpen with USM 130%, 0.3 radius, 5 threshold (latter because it's a jpg)
    Increased saturation (+20)

    I might recrop losing 10% on left hand side, but didn't do that as it would make comparison in Lytebox here at CiC with your original more difficult.

    Hope that helps,
    Hi Dave

    Why thank you - nasty sharp thing is a very sturdy upside down tree guard between the wall and garage where Snarf jumped, and no, no cats were impaled during the session, although the owner was pretty near a heart attack.

    Ok, slow down a sec, is there a photographic dictionary, what is ACR, I get fill light from camera speak, is it the same in the language of manipulation software? It seems your torn as to weather flash would have helped or not (glad I'm not the only one). Did you do a course on photoshop, or learn by trial & error? What is USM? - questions, questions, so many questions - this is great.

    Your image above is a definite improvement in terms of Snarf's clarity, I'm off to investigate my trial version of aperture with your list above in the hope of a eureka moment. Wish me luck, and thanks again for your insight.

    Lisa

    P.S - He also does karate...

    Cat Action Shot Tips

  8. #8

    Re: Cat Action Shot Tips

    Cat Action Shot Tips


    Try throwing the cat upside down it looks much more natural as the struggle to gain the horizontal

    Well, sport mode has nailed the action but predictably failed on the exposure. As mentioned above sport mode uses matrix metering. Try Tv mode with the shutter set between 1/250 and 1/500 and the camera set to spot meter as discussed above. The only problem is that you would need pretty good light. If the cat is fairly near (perhaps 15m or less) a speedlite will probably give you enough fill to make a difference but you will need to use high speed sync and this inevitably shortens the range of the flash (the flash pulses rather than one instantaneous exposure).

  9. #9

    Re: Cat Action Shot Tips

    Hi, Lisa! Your "super cats" are just great!

    You sound just like me when I first came here, in October! Keep practicing, posting, reading the tutorials (and your camera's manual) and asking questions and the people, here, at CiC will totally get you where you want to go - er, photographically speaking that is. No trips to "Tahiti" I'm afraid. Just remember: "inch by inch, anything's a cinch!".... er, right! Again, I mean, at least, photographically speaking, that is.

    btw, I've been struggling with my post processing through learning how to use iphoto. At first, it was driving me crazy but it really is a simple and good place to fiddle around and learn until you figure out what post processing program you want to invest in!

  10. #10
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Cat Action Shot Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by solitarylady View Post
    Hi Dave

    Why thank you - nasty sharp thing is a very sturdy upside down tree guard between the wall and garage where Snarf jumped, and no, no cats were impaled during the session, although the owner was pretty near a heart attack.

    Ok, slow down a sec, is there a photographic dictionary, what is ACR, I get fill light from camera speak, is it the same in the language of manipulation software? It seems your torn as to weather flash would have helped or not (glad I'm not the only one). Did you do a course on photoshop, or learn by trial & error? What is USM? - questions, questions, so many questions - this is great.

    Your image above is a definite improvement in terms of Snarf's clarity, I'm off to investigate my trial version of aperture with your list above in the hope of a eureka moment. Wish me luck, and thanks again for your insight.

    Lisa

    P.S - He also does karate...

    Cat Action Shot Tips
    Hi Lisa,

    Sorry;
    USM = UnSharp Mask, which, despite its name, it is a method used for sharpening (usually).
    ACR = Adobe Camera RAW
    "Fill light" is the name of a control inside ACR which has an effect on the image just like the photographic use of a light to 'fill' (i.e. illuminate) shadows.

    Good luck with Aperture,

  11. #11
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    Re: Cat Action Shot Tips

    Lisa, Um...can you give me some tips on how to take such fantastic action shots???

  12. #12
    solitarylady's Avatar
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    Re: Cat Action Shot Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Hans View Post
    Lisa, Um...can you give me some tips on how to take such fantastic action shots???
    Many thanks Hans, this made me - it helps to have a pair of very crazy young subjects, their antics continually have me in stitches to the point I can't hold the camera steady, and boy do you have to be quick, I can't really take much credit, as you can see from above, my camera has done all the hard work.

    Here's one more that's not to bad....
    Cat Action Shot Tips

    Kind regards

    Lisa

  13. #13
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    Re: Cat Action Shot Tips

    They are beautiful robust looking cats aren't they? Another great shot!
    Look forward to more pics as you go along

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