Ten Ragdoll kittens in a Helmi Flick cat photograph. It is popularity piled upon popularity. The Ragdoll is a very popular cat breed; probably in the top ten, at least, of all cat breeds. And kittens are also extremely popular especially on the internet. And then we have Helmi Flick. Her photographs are extremely popular too. We can’t fail with this cat picture on a site called Pictures of Cats. If you click on the image you’ll arrive at a slightly sharper image and a black background (Firefox browser). Try it and see.
I am sure that this is a straight photograph, meaning there has been no photoshopping (image editing). And that means working fast and you need an excellent cat wrangler to get the kits into position, by which I mean there are two people getting this photo.
In order to capture a photo like this you have to place the kittens on the studio table facing the camera, reach for the tease immediately, attract their attention, pray that there are no spoilers (cats who look the wrong way or do a walkabout) and snap that camera shutter quick, really quick. Cat photography is about speed. You’ll have a limited amount of time to retake the photograph because the kittens will gradually become less attentive and the magically harmonious cat picture that you seek will be almost impossible to get.
There is a well known Japanese cat photographer whose name is Tetsu (full name: Tetsu Yamazaki). As far as I am aware, he works alone and on the floor and is therefore unable to take this kind of cat photograph. I mean that he sets up his studio background on the floor and photographs the cats and kittens while on his knees. He must use a tease in one hand to help position the cats and the camera in the other. Tetsu uses lighting that is more natural and less artificial than Helmi and Ken Flick. This is just a matter of choice. Neither way is better than the other.
Tetsu’s cat pictures have one light source and a white background. Ken Flick sets up the studio table he built it, which places the cats off the ground and the lighting is more complicated and includes a gentle back light to pick out the edge of the cat and the fur. It provides a more three dimensional feel to the photograph. You can see its effect in the photo on this page. Helmi uses strobe lighting that freezes motion. The cats don’t mind the flash and it is extremely useful in capturing interesting compositions while the cats move rapidly.
These lovely Ragdoll kittens are bicolor as they have white fur in the middle of the pointing. Ragdoll cats are pointed cats like Siamese cats but the breed standard allows for this bicolor pattern. The pointing is very faint in these kittens. That may be because the pointing is not fully developed or is diluted. Blue pointing is a dilute black, for example. Bicolor Ragdolls are classified in the white particolor point division at cat associations.
The Ragdoll breed standard has lots of requirements in respect of how the white fur is patterned on the cat. And I am sure that it takes a good cat breeder to meet those standards. This makes me think about what happens to the cats who don’t meet these demanding standards. I suppose they are sold by breeders as ‘pets’. Does this always happen?