Glowing Cat Eyes

Some days ago I was at a friends yard. In the evening we were sitting on the terrace when this little cat came by. Since it was already quite dark only a dark silhouette of the cat was visible. I immediately remembered about cat's eyes reflecting light heavily. So, I wanted to do some experiments with this cat and the built in flash light of my camera.

300mm  f/5.6  1/60sec  ISO3200
My first try was with a tele zoom lens. Since I only had my standard zoom lens with me I grabbed my friend's Nikon camera with a 55-300mm lens. It was set into full automatic mode. I positioned myself at some distance to the cat. When focusing the cat the camera sent out some short flashes to be able to focus. This attracted the cat's attention. It was looking to me and due to the flashes their eyes closed a bit. With the final photo shot the eyes got a nice shape and were beautifully reflecting the light. Because of the high focal length and the small aperture value the photo got a nice depth of field. And because I had a distance to the cat the flash light was not that intensive to produce a typical flash light shot. I like the result. The cat really looks spooky.

55mm  f/5.6  1/60sec  ISO200
After this fantastic shot I wanted to know, what is possible with my 18-55mm standard zoom lens. So, I grabbed my camera which was set into P mode with a fixed ISO value. I went closer to the cat to get a closeup shot. My Canon uses a red light for focusing in dark environment. This weak light leaves the cat's eyes wide open and in the final shot you have widely opened eyes instead of those typical cat eyes. Because of the short distance the flash light was much more intensive making the cat itself very bright and the background, too. The result is a typical flash light shot with high contrasts and shadows. The glowing eyes are not that strongly visible. This is definitely not the way to shoot glowing cat eyes.

55mm  f/5.6  1/60sec  ISO200
Next I positioned myself again at some longer distance but still with the standard zoom lens. Now I got a wider view of the yard with a smaller cat. I focused but the weak red light did not attract the cat's attention. So I made some noise and took the photo when it was looking at me. Because of the distance the flash intensity is not that strong to illuminate the cat too much. It stays quite dark. The glowing eyes are nicely visible and the cat again looks spooky. The foreground is illuminated a bit which separates the dark cat from background. I like this shot. It is not that detailed as the first one, but showing the cat in its surrounding makes the scene interesting. And the two brightly glowing spots in the cat's head are awesome.

So, in the end I can say, that for taking photos of glowing cat eyes you need a certain distance to the cat. The small camera built in flash is absolutely sufficient. If you want a closeup of the cat's head you need a tele zoom lens.