Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Evil Eyes

My cat is, by all accounts, a perfectly pleasant cat. It's not a scraggy, old, flea-ridden mog. She's got quite beautiful long black and white fur. She's got a normal cat face - free from blemishes or disfigurements. You could even go so far as to say that she's a rather cute looking cat.

The thing is though, I don't really like her. She's kind of annoying. She runs away every time you go anywhere near her, or god forbid, try to pet her or pick her up. She has an incredibly annoying habit of miaowing constantly if you go out into the back garden, even though there doesn't appear to be anything bothering her and she has plenty of food and whatever else cats need.

She's also quite an effective killer. Every couple of days, she presents us with a freshly killed mouse, or bird, and recently, an impressively large fish from our pond. Behind the façade of the cute face and gentle demeanour, there is a killer lurking, one with all the cold efficiency of a deadly assassin.

None of this was on my mind when I went into our back garden recently to take a few pictures of the cat. I was actually thinking the opposite: I just wanted to get a few cute pictures of the cat because I hadn't taken anything in a while and I had a free model who couldn't really object. I intended to take flattering pictures because I thought it would be good practise for taking pictures of other living things, namely humans.

But flattering pictures was not what I ended up with, at least, that's what I think of them. While taking them and particularly while post-processing them, I ended up with photos that look like the cat is plotting to take over a small country in South America, or perhaps point a giant gun from space and hold the world at ransom. In one picture, somebody commented that she looked like "Batman's cat", and Batman, while certainly not evil, definitely has a sinister, gothic look about him. I suppose it's all that black.

I think this says some really interesting things about photography, and how the person behind the lens can influence the picture and use it to create their own representation of something, rather than a faithful rendition of something in the world; be it a landscape or a portrait of a person, or as I've found out, even a cat. Clearly my less-than-flattering feelings shone through to the photos, and whether I wanted to or not made no difference. Honestly, I made no conscious decision to take sinister or dark photos, nor did I mean to post-process them to make them even darker. I just found myself doing it. One picture I converted to black and white, and using a layer mask I painted the eyes back into colour. I did it just because I thought it might look cool. The picture I chose just because her eyes were widest in it. This is what I ended up with:

Eyes of a Killer

Pretty evil, eh? Here are a couple of pictures that I posted earlier in the week of the cat, taken at the same time as this one:

So that's that. The next time somebody takes a photo of you, study the results very carefully. They might just think you're the next Bond villain. Or Batman.

God I wish I was Batman...