Pumpkin does paperwork

Pumpkin does paperwork

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Kitty Porch Protects Cats for under $50

This was a weekend project that was fun to do, looks good and protects your indoor or semi-indoor kitties while affording them a taste of the outside world. There are commercial products like this which can be purchased for hundreds of dollars and have limited customization options.

The total cost of this project was under $50 (not including the kitty door which was already installed.
The 20" x 36" x 72" "cage" allows our cats to step outside and observe the critter highway in back of our house

The tricky part of this project was that the whole thing had to be secure, but the sliding screen door behind it had to still function.

Since kitties love high places and afternoon sun, I also built in three sunning shelves for them to lounge around on. The "front" or large side of the cage is hinged and has two barrel bolt latches. The entire panel can be opened for access. The primary materials are 2 x 6 wire fencing and redwood 2 x 2s.

Baxter approves
The enclosure is constructed of redwood 2x2s, 4x2 wire fencing, pine shelving and plywood. The 2x2s were slotted down the middle on a table saw, and the wire fencing was "inlayed" into them for a secure fit around the entire perimeter of each panel.

I only had to construct two sides and a top. The top is a piece of plywood which also acts as a storage shelf. I also added a spring to the hinged side as safety measure, in case one of us need to get into the cage for some reason, and stepped away from it, leaving the side panel open by mistake.

The spring closes the door so if a forgetful human opens it up and leaves without latching it, the door will close by itself. It's up to the human to remember to latch the bolts. The theory is, that if the door is just closed but not latched, a cat who ventures out into the cage will see that there is no opening, and not try to get out. The barrel bolts prevent cats who try to get out from escaping.

Its very secure, durable, cat and critter-proof. I stained the wooden parts before assembling the whole thing with brass hardware, so it looks nice as well.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Photographing your cat: A 5-minute essentials guide


In just 5 minutes, learn some cool techniques for getting great shots of your feline friend(s).

What you need:

  • A cat
  • A camera
  • Some light
If you are comfortable fiddling with your camera's settings and spending a little more time to get your shot, you have even more flexibility for great pictures. The purpose of this article is to suggest how you can get great pet shots without fiddling with camera settings, apart from turning it on!

Your Subject

  • Get close.
  • Tell a story.
  • Capture candid and spontaneous moments that don't look staged.
  • Take pictures at kitty’s eye-level.
  • Include meaningful elements in your shot and show kitty enjoying himself.

Lighting

Good lighting is a very important part of getting great pictures.
  • Use natural lighting and try to avoid using the flash if you can (except as noted below).
  • Strong lighting from the side provides a great effect.
  • Try to avoid scenes with very bright areas and very dark areas.
  • Morning and afternoon light are excellent times to make natural-light photographs outside or next to windows.
  • Avoid using your flash unless there are bright elements behind your subject. 
  • Avoid red-eye by turning your flash off or try to prevent your subjects from looking directly at the camera. Many cats will be startled by some camera's pre-flash systems, it is best to avoid startling your cat in the first place by just not using the flash. 
  • Try to get a "catch-light" in your pet's eyes. A small bright glint of a light source reflected in the eyes will add life to your shot.

Focus

  • Make sure kitty's eyes are in focus. If your camera doesn't allow you to control focus, or if you'd rather it focus for you, make sure kitty's face is near the center of the frame, hold the shutter button down half-way, to establish a focus and exposure lock (most modern cameras will do this) and recompose your shot if you like, without changing your distance from kitty.
  • Brace yourself and/or the camera against something solid and unmoving whenever possible.
  • Hold the camera as steady as possible, especially if you are not using the flash.
  • Press the shutter button slowly and deliberately.

Composition

There are rules. Some have been used by great artists for many years, some rules are meant to be broken, some just make sense. Ultimately, you get to decide what you like, but here are some guidelines.

Don't put kitty's face right in the middle of the shot. Put her off to the side a little, Imagine your scene split up in to nine rectangles, all the same size. Where the lines intersect are good places for kitty's face/eyes.

Be aware of foreground, middle ground and background elements. Avoid elements that interfere with your intended subject, like that wayward house-plant vine sticking down behind kitty's head.

Above all, have fun!