How to photograph cats using a flash

I was over at Mandy and Elliot's place last week, and as usual, I felt compelled to take a few photos of their two black cats. Those of you with black cats know that it's very difficult to get a good photo of one. It was really dark in the loft, but all I had with me was a Canon Rebel XT and its dinky onboard flash. Popping up the flash, I snapped a few shots and discovered that one of their cats was hypersensitive to the camera's preflashes, which strobe quickly (and normally, imperceptibly) before the main flash.

one cat kept closing her eyes when the flash went off

Note that I've also met some people who are sensitive to preflashes. They're typically the ones who have that drugged, half-blinking look when you photograph them.

Elliot suggested turning off the preflash by using the * button to set flash exposure lock (FEC) before firing the shutter. This worked wonders:

using FEC prevents the preflash from firing with the shutter

And finally, you can jack the ISO way up and shoot without flash. If you're shooting a tight composition, remember to underexpose slightly to account for a dark subject (just like you have to do when you photograph someone wearing black clothing). If there isn't much light in the room, you will likely be shooting with a very large aperture, so remember to try to keep your subjects in the same focal plane. Otherwise, one will probably be blurry (like in my photo, below).

kitties, no flash

Clearly, this post was born from insomnia. I'm tired, but can't sleep. :(