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Tips and techniques on taking pictures of your pet cat-Part 4

How much is that kitty in the window?

Well, sometimes they just don’t cooperate!

Cat's-Eye View of the World postcard
Cat’s-Eye View of the World by Macie_Staples

oh hai Greeting Card card
oh hai Greeting Card by willowdewisp

Cat in the Window mug
Cat in the Window by Bebops

In this case, the “window” was a bunk bed……but he still wouldn’t budge…..
Brindled and white cat framed in wood card
Brindled and white cat framed in wood by SusansZooCrew

In the Christmas spirit

Kittens and cats alike *love* Christmas…when else is there a big green tree *in the house* with sparkly dangly playthings hanging off of it, setup in a nice corner just for the kitties amusement? Or how about all those crinkly boxes with ribbon hanging off of them? Kitty heaven!

(warning: hang all ornaments out of the cats’ reach…..and you might not want to let the cat near the tree, they can and do climb trees. If you do, I’d recommend securing the tree to something so it won’t topple over when a 10 lb furry weight streak up the trunk to attack the star……)

That said, you can get some neat shots, complete with props, at holiday time! See? :

Panda and Cat Christmas Card card
Panda and Cat Christmas Card by krystishollyhocks

Kitty with Presents Stamp stamp
Kitty with Presents Stamp by PRPrints

Cat and Panda Postage stamp
Cat and Panda Postage by krystishollyhocks

Kitty in Tree Gift Tag sticker
Kitty in Tree Gift Tag by PRPrints

Using props

If you’re lucky enough to have a calm cat, you can make use of props in your pictures. Wait until the cat is nice and comfortable, carefully and slowly add desired props, and capture the moment!

Be careful with plants that the cat doesn’t take a bite out of something poisonus (dumbcane and poinsettas come to mind).

Keep in mind that any props used may become property of the kitty if he or she so decides!

Roses are good:
Tortoiseshell cat with red flowers stamp
Tortoiseshell cat with red flowers by Bebops

Dress up! This only works with a really laid back cat……or a really tired one:

Kitty get well card card
Kitty get well card by deemac1

Like I said, really tired:
If the shoe fits print
If the shoe fits by deemac1

Another example:
Cat reading a book Bookmark profilecard
Cat reading a book Bookmark by Funcards

Custom Guitar Pick Review, Part 1

Custom Printed Guitar Pick Review, Part 1
(c) Susan L. Marsh
(Please link to this rather than copy any portion, thank you!)

When Zazzle introduced their new line of custom printed guitar picks, I had to try some! The price starts out a tad steep for just one, but when you do 10 at a time it’s a very reasonable $2.75 range each for single sided. If you do 50, it goes down to a tad over a dollar each single sided! This would be a great promotional item for bands or solo musicians. Next time a pick gets dropped, the person finding it was just shown an ad :). This also makes a great gift idea for the musician in the family! How about the jewelery makers? Punch a hole in the plastic and make a pair of earrings, charm bracelet, or necklace. Even a keyring! The craft possibilites are high …

Ok, now about the picks themselves and my limited playing test.

Zazzle’s offical description is:

Rock out with customized guitar picks! Made with high quality celluloid (a traditional pick material), these picks grip well and provide the flexibility and durability needed for a balanced, yet crisp tone. Choose between the standard and triangle shape and add your beautiful designs, photos, or text to the front and back for a professional grade custom guitar pick.
• Available in standard and triangle shapes.
• Dimensions: .98″w x 1.18″l (standard) , 1.22″w x 1.18″l (triangle)
• Medium gauge (.71mm).
• Made with celluloid. Ideal for Acoustic, Electric and Bass Guitars.
• Designs printed in vibrant full color on your choice of single or double side.

We’ll start picking this apart :). Here’s an image of several picks I checked them against, including the printed one (it’s the pretty one!). This is the “standard” shape, as the triangle one seemed odd for guitar.
guitar pick sample by Susan L. amrsh

Material: Celluloid. Ok, not much I can say here. I bent one in half and it did not snap and did go back to shape in a minute or so. So, it’s celluloid.

“Grips well”. I’m not sure what to say about this. The finish is , well, plastic. It is not gripped/ribbed like some picks, and it is not a glossy finish. I would say it “grips normal”. I have sweaty paws and did drop one after about 10 minutes of playing, so if you are prone to sweaty fingers and losing them order extra!

Tone: Urm, nothing special but nothing obnoxious, at least on the electric Strat that I used to test.

Guage/Flexibility: I have to say these seem sturdier than I thought for a .71? I do not have a micrometer to test, but in terms of “bendiness” side by side these seemed to be the same as a Fender Medium (clear blue) and a generic brand that says .88 nylon. Perhaps the difference in materials , but I’d definietly agree this is a medium pick. Comparison images shows the flexibility next to a Fender medium. Oh, and if you decide to test this at home, my range is about 6 feet when it slips out on the first few bend attempts. Luckily the cat found them for me…. Please note that that I am pushing harder on the zazzle pick in this picture, you can see my thumb is redder. Very hard to not lose the picks while taking a picture with the other hand!

Test flex of a Fender pick, medium

Test flex of a Fender pick, medium

zazzle flex

Flexxxxx those muscles!

“Ideal for Acoustic, Electric and Bass Guitars”-I’m going to have to disagree with part of this. Acoustic guitars and light electric guitar players, yes. Heavy metal or bass guitar? This is not the right pick for that in my opinion. Well, maybe for an acoustic bass but even then….(see “durability” in part 2).

Now for the fun part…………testing :).

My first test guitar is an electric Fender Stratocaster with standard roundwound 10′s on it.

I’m a medium strength player, not a “real” guitar player* so my skill set is playing eighth and quarters on chords with very little picking. I played three rounds of “Mad World” plus a few warm up chords, so approximately 10 minutes of playing chords, mostly eighths. I used two picks, one held with the printing up and the other held printing down.

This is my test image:

The original art is one of my spraypaint paintings, using guitar shapes as part of the design. I did not think about (my fault) how tiny the image would be. I recommend not using such a busy image! Simple is better.

Here’s the real pick in the palm of my hand:

Guitar pick susanszoocrew

Susan’s Zoo Crew Guitar pick, actual picture

The colors are pretty close, a tad on the dark side. I recommend making an image on the lighter and more contrast end of the spectrum. It did print the neon colors fairly close (which did surprise me as those are tricky). The darkness may be due to how far down the image has to be shrunk also. I would give the printing a 4.8 out of 5, highly recommended in terms of quality. Even a fine line logo will reproduce well, just reallllllllly small.

Part 2 answers the big question………will these survive being actually used? Stay tuned for part 2!

Edit: Find Part 2 here: Part 2 of Custom Guitar Pick review

(to keep you busy, here’s a few of my guitar designs :) )

dead tree purple yellow leaves sky guitar pickguitar outline image pink black bridge tee shirtsArm Playing Guitar Blue Psychadelic Colors Square Teesguitar neck stamp white and red instrument tees

Guitar Designs

Tips and techniques on taking pictures of your pet cat-Part 3

Or, get em while they’re distracted!

Cats looooooove to play with things. A ball of yarn…….mine loves plastic grocery bags (under supervision)…..the little plastic rings that peel off when you open a gallon of juice or milk….a rattly ball…..balled up piece of paper…you name it! This is a great time to get a good picture of your cat doing something besides sleeping. Initiate playtime and grab the camera!

One trick to make snapping pictures easier is to tie a piece of yarn/ribbon on the end of a stick and dangle that over kitty. You can use one hand to aim the camera and the other to tease the kitty! (hint from deemac1)

You can either leave the toy in the shot, or zoom in close to get the wild eyed look (kittens are great at this one). One tip for getting kitties attention is hold aside a toy (squeaky crinkly kinds work well), aim the camera, get ready……make noise with the toy and snap the picture as soon as kitty turns towards you! This will work for a few times, but after a while the kitty will start ignoring you-take em while you can!

Use of yarn on a stick trick:
play card
play by deemac1

Play with me card
Play with me by deemac1

Feathers are fun! Just make sure they aren’t attached to a live bird (gulp….)!

Playing kitten card
Playing kitten by deemac1

Wild eyes in the middle of playtime!
Kitten Postage stamp
Kitten Postage by willowdewisp

Kitten Cards card
Kitten Cards by krystishollyhocks

Cat with computer
Cat and pc mug
Cat and pc by TitiaG

Highly recommended to not let your cat on the keyboard! Certain combinations of keys, when pressed together by furry paws or clumsy hands, will make your life miserable as your computer does things all by itself…….Unplug those keyboards!

Outdoor cats

If you have an outdoor cat or an indoor/outdoor cat, the great outdoors makes for instant backdrops!

An overcast day is usually best for outdoor photographs so you don’t have to battle shadows or sun in anyone’s eyes. Otherwise, early morning or later in the afternoon is next best. Flash pictures of cats always end up looking like…….flash pictures, so try and take your photographs where there is enough ambient light to not use the flash. Flash also gives you the problem of “green eye” which is rather hard to touch up later…..better to avoid using it!

One difficulty you may run into is getting close enough to some kitties outside to get that great photograph-some will see you coming a mile away with your camera! This is when either waiting until close to dinner time or breaking out the treats can come in handy! You will probably end up with a lot of “distracted” shots, but even those can tell a story.

kittycat mousepad
kittycat by lilymom24

Time Spent With A Curious Black Cat Postcard postcard
Time Spent With A Curious Black Cat Postcard by DigitalDreambuilder

Smokey the Cat Magnet magnet
Smokey the Cat Magnet by jasminesphotography

You are special to me Greeting Card card
You are special to me Greeting Card by Funcards
LOL Maine Coon print
LOL Maine Coon by JeanC_PurpleDucky

Get up close and personal
(zoom lenses and good lighting help)

Zoom in! Or if your cat will let you, poke the camera right up next to him or her. Make sure there’s enough lighting so the flash won’t create any issues and click away! Usually right after a nap is a good time to catch the kitty up close, before they’ve really woken up enough to bother getting up and moving.

Or, you can take a wider angled picture and crop down to just the eyes…..or the nose……or the mouth. Play with the crop box-you may end up with 3 or 4 good variations on one picture!

Might want to check and make sure kitty doesn’t have gunky eyes, for some reason the gunk always shows up HUGE in pictures.

Cat Eyes in Color Mousepad mousepad
Cat Eyes in Color Mousepad by ValeriesGallery

This one was desaturated to make it black and white:

Black and white cat face close up mousepad
Black and white cat face close up by SusansZooCrew

Here’s an example of a wider shot that could also be cropped in. The picture is great as is of one sleeping and one awake kitty, and then you could also crop it down to just the black cats’ face!

Everyone needs a hug postcard
Everyone needs a hug by deemac1

This is what you can do when your kitty is more interested in the lizard outside than you…..sneak in from the side and get right up to him!

Contemplative Cat Postcard postcard
Contemplative Cat Postcard by katieryn

Tips and techniques on taking pictures of your pet cat-Part 2

Candid shots-introduction

With cats, this tends to be the most common type of photograph. It’s a lot harder to pose a cat than a dog! However, sneaking up on a playing kitty or snoozing fluffball in the sun isn’t too hard (see earlier comment about camera noise). The hardest part is avoiding the “You are *bothering* me” look they like to give you, although those looks make for great pictures too.

There is something to keep in mind about candid shots-you have to have a camera in hand to catch them.

If you’re after good kitty photographs, keep your camera either within reach (if you’re just around the house) or around your neck (if you’re actively pursuing pictures). Make sure the batteries are charged and there’s film or a memory card with room on it loaded. Practice taking off the lens cap quickly. Get into the habit of having the camera nearby and you’ll capture more photographs! With luck you may even get a shot of your kitty in “wild eyed zoom around the room” mode!

Sleeping Kitty
or, Shhhhhhhhhh isn’t she cute?

Cats like to sleep. A lot. And they’ll do it in the darndest places! Mine likes to sleep in the bathroom sink but always knows if I have a camera in my hand so I can’t prove it…yet. Pictures of sleeping cats are always favorites! Here are some examples of what you can capture during a (forgive the pun) cat nap!

(this one’s been digitally enhanced)
Sleeping Kitty Mousepad mousepad
Sleeping Kitty Mousepad by Bebops

She’s really hiding her nose, but could pass for sleeping:
Cat Hiding postcard
Cat Hiding by TitiaG

Going to sleep:
Jasper Yawning Kitten Photo Blank Notecard card
Jasper Yawning Kitten Photo Blank Notecard by CeruleanSkyStudios

Andddddddd we’re out:
Cat Contentment print
Cat Contentment by ReneeFukumoto

A really little one:
You & Me, big bro' Magnet magnet
You & Me, big bro’ Magnet by Funcards

When working with tiny kittens, keep em with mamma….put em back if they cry (or mom might decide to get possesive….or worse, push kitten out!) and never handle a young kitten unless you know the mothers’ temperment!

This guy looks realllllllly comfy:
Dreaming of the veldt print
Dreaming of the veldt by JeanC_PurpleDucky

I’m with the cat on this one……I dislike moving…….a lot……

Cat Sleeping postcard
Cat Sleeping by TitiaG

Don’t forget to grab those yawns!

Halloween Cat label
Halloween Cat by deemac1

Big mouthed kitten mousepad
Big mouthed kitten by deemac1

Hydroponic mistakes I’ve made so far-Part 1

Ooops! Or, Ya know, I shouldn’t have done that. Hydroponics missteps.

This is a running log of the mistakes I’ve made in my journey to grow hot peppers, and possibly other stuff, hydroponically. I’ll be honest, I didn’t intend to get into hydroponics-I’ve read about it but upon seeing the equipment costs said ferget it. But after attending a workshop at a local hydroponics store where they had a setup build out of Home Depot type materials, I decided to try it.

I have a lot to learn……and it looks like I’ll be learning it the hard way……. :)

My hydroponic system, a brief overview.

The below mistakes apply to two different systems.

One is a simple passive bucket. Take a three gallon bucket, drill a hole near the rim and insert an airstone, add water, add a basket containing the plant and the media and viola! Hydroponics! It’s a pain to test the water though, you have to pick up the basket to get to the water.

The other is an ebb and flow system, basically one heavy duty plastic rectangle container with the lid on. Another of the same container on top. Holes drilled in the bottom of the top through the reservior lid and a hydroponic ebb and flow fitting kit added (just two standpipes, one for drain, one with a fitting for the water pump). The reserviour has an airstone and a fountain pump hooked to the fittings. Pump on a timer to run for a few minutes several times a day (three right now).

Both systems under the same flourescent grow light, which rests across the top of the ebb and flow system. Didn’t have to figure out a hanging system that way, have a while before the plants outgrow that!

Plant mistake-growing the wrong kind!

I decided to grow some tomatoes from seed to eliminate the “plant used to soil” problem. They were sprouted in jiffy peat pellets, and I made sure to take them out of the pellets before the roots had grown through the mesh. I don’t like the mesh, but the kind without don’t seem to grow the seeds as well. So when the plants were basically two leaves and a stem, I carefully soaked them in a bucket and removed all the peat. I placed them in Turface (the hydroton is just too big at this stage) and added them to the system.

Fast forward two weeks and WOW! These guys are already 6 inches tall! Then I got to thinking. Peppers are only a foot tall…..and if these tomatoes keep growing they’ll outgrow the lights..Oh no! The light of realization dawns.

Cue up finding the seed package and oh boy. Indeterminate tomatoes. For those who don’t know what that means, it means they just keep growing-they’re the vine type. I needed bush tomatoes (determinate). ACK!

So now I have to start all over, assuming I find the seeds I like, and I have to figure out what to do with 6 happy hydroponic tomatoe vines. I’m probably going to set up buckets outside and let them stay hydroponic. I’ve already started putting them in the sun for 15 minutes a day to try and harden them off……..

So….check the variety before planting!!!

Hydroponics mistake-trying to keep the cost down

Most of the mistakes I made and are making as we speak with my hydroponics system stem (haha) directly from trying to keep the costs down. Let’s face it, this hydroponics stuff can get expensive! When I look at what I’m trying to grow ( a few hot peppers right now), I can’t justify dropping $300 on a light system. I could import pounds of peppers for that!

So I admit, my biggest mistake is not just biting the bullet and shelling out the cash. Until the price of peppers goes to $300 a lb though, I’ll keep trying to keep my costs down.

Ok, enough of Part 1. Onto Part 2!