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How do you catch them with their tongue out?

October 28, 2009
Baby Kitty - © Karleen Gansberg

Baby Kitty - © Karleen Gansberg

Goldie Yawning-© Karleen Gansberg
Goldie Yawning

Author and Photographer – Karleen Gansberg

I’ve been asked how I get photographs of cats with their tongue out or their mouth wide open.  Well, the first step I will refer to as lots of “P & P”, that’s “Patience and Persistence”.  I also think it helps to have a love for cats and photography to accomplish the animated faces.  You just have to hang out with them for awhile and follow them around or just sit near them.  Become one of them, be at one with the cat, and BE READY!  CAMERA READY! 

 If you see the cat start to lick then immediately start clicking that shutter.  The great thing about digital is you can do that without wasting film.  If you don’t get the shot you want then you can delete it and it didn’t cost you a thing.  If a cat starts to yawn and you only have one shot to get it, well, you may have to hope for a little luck, well, maybe lots of luck. 

 If you have lots of shots left on your memory card and your camera can shoot several FPS (frames per second) then you have a better chance at getting the great shot.  Some photographers put milk or cat food on the cats paw to make them lick their paw and that works too (though I haven’t tried it) but you have to be quick and it may help to have an assistant.  The assistant can put the milk on the cat’s paw and move out of the way quickly, while meantime you are in place and ready to shoot immediately.

 I’m not going to discuss what F-stop or shutter speed or even ISO to use.  That is a whole other subject and so many variables depending on the camera, the lens, the available light.  You should know your camera and lens and your preferences better than anyone else and that comes from shooting, shooting, and more shooting.  The best way to test your camera is to use it often and try different things all the time.  Bracket, Bracket, Bracket, and review your shots and see what worked best in each situation. 

 So, with all of that said, some cats just have an overactive tongue or yawn a lot more than others as is the case with Goldie.  She yawns all day long and she is a licker.  She will lick other cats like she is their mom.  We often refer to her as momma kitty.  She loves to lick people’s faces, hands, legs, and toes.  Sometimes I am photographing her and not even trying to get her with her tongue out but when I review the photos, lo and behold, there is that tongue!  She is so much fun to photograph!

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