Cat scans—and contest!

August 11, 2011 • 1:07 pm

If you have a scanner and a cat, you may be in luck.  An alert reader sent me a site full of “cat scans,” in which readers simply put their cat on a computer scanner and post the results. Some of the shots (a few are shown below) are great.

I’ll award an autographed HARDBACK edition of WEIT to the reader who sends me the best scan of his/her cat.  My collection of hardbacks is very small now, so this will be the last one I offer in a contest. The autograph will include my drawing of the winning cat.

Rules: Contest closes on the last day of August.  Send only one scan per cat, please.  If there are fewer than ten entries, only a paperback will be awarded.  Send scans to my email address, easily obtained by Googling my name and my university.

Flatbed scanners do not, I believe, use lasers, so I doubt that scanning can cause harm.  If anybody knows otherwise, please let us know.

What to shoot for (click to enlarge).  The first one is definitely a winner!

36 thoughts on “Cat scans—and contest!

  1. Oooh…this’ll be good.

    Baihu? Come here, baby. Got a new place for you to hang out….

    (And, yes, Jerry — you’re correct. No lasers. Just a fluorescent that’s really not all that bright.)



        1. SELECT CONVERT(JPEG, [scanner].[stdout]) AS [Image]
          FROM [/dev/usb3] AS [scanner]
          INNER JOIN [] AS [PS]
          ON [scanner].[stdout] = [PS].[stdin]

          — erm. Sorry. You were saying…?

          Oh, work. Right.

          SELECT [person].[soc_sec_no] AS [SSN],
          SUBSTRING(ISNULL([person].[first_name], ”), 1, 15) AS [First name],
          SUBSTRING(ISNULL([person].[last_name], ”), 1, 20) AS [Last name],
          [peraddr].[city] AS [City],
          [peraddr].[state] AS [State],
          [peraddr].[zip] AS [ZIP],
          [empcomp].[hire_date] AS [Date hired],
          CASE WHEN ISNULL([empcomp].[termination_date], ‘1900-01-01’) >= ISNULL([empcomp].[rehire_date], [empcomp].[hire_date]) THEN [empcomp].[termination_date] END AS [Date terminated]

          FROM [person]

          INNER JOIN [empcomp]
          ON [person].[person_id] = [empcomp].[person_id]

          LEFT JOIN [peraddr]
          ON [person].[person_id] = [peraddr].[person_id]
          AND [peraddr].[addr_code] = ‘HOME’

          ORDER BY [Last name],
          [First name]

    1. Initial trials yield 1 good Keeshu, Fifi will not be doing an entry, and Merlyn shows promise since he will sit on the scanner all day, but we need to work with the lighting since he’s fairly dark. I know what I’m doing this weekend.

  2. “Flatbed scanners do not, I believe, use lasers, so I doubt that scanning can cause harm. If anybody knows otherwise, please let us know.”

    The technology that’s in our digital cameras today — a harmless color (RGB) detecting/collecting process — was initially brought round to us in the flatbed scanner.

    The laser printer — a device of basically the same generation for most of us (DTP) — uses lasers, but hidden down inside, for its precision inking capability.

    However, with the lid up for cat scanning, the CCD light is very bright… as in, it will hurt to look at it directly. Plan on getting only one shot with any one cat. Or have a first aid kit handy.

    1. On my scanner, it’s not all that bright. I don’t think any of them are especially bright.

      The illumination hitting the object of the scanner is about half that of what it would be in full sunlight. Don’t press your eye against the platen, but it won’t do worse than dazzle you. At cat-head-height, it’s barely enough to leave an afterimage. Subjectively, it’s not as bright as the clouds I see out my window right now.



  3. I’m the “alert reader” Jerry mentions

    Way back in the 60’s the artist Sonia Landy Sheridan was experimenting with the Xerox photocopier & 3M Thermo-Fax copier ~ mainly at first for making anti-Vietnam war posters . She headed a programme at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the 70’s that explored these ideas. She now lives over at Hanover, NH ~ nice lady

    Some advice on scan(n)ography ~ to which I would add ~ you can increase the depth captured by the scanner by using extra lights that are aimed at the cat & positioned to reflect towards the glass platten. If the rest of the room is kept dark (or if you ‘tent’ the object’) a good contrast can be achieved

    Also note the beautiful results HERE & some self portraits by Leopold Cassandra

    1. Yup. As always, “it’s all about the light.”

      The scanner light is actually pretty dim; it’s only because it’s a hair’s breadth away from the object that you get any decent kinds of illumination out of it. Inverse square and all.

      According to my light meter, at ISO 100 and f/8, the exposure is 1/100 second right on the platen; that’s about half the illumination level outdoors on a sunny day. But, at cat-head-height, it drops all the way to a full second — pitch black, in this context.

      My only portable lights are the strobes. Of course, a strobe is useless for this sort of thing; you’d just get a white line running through the picture. But the strobes have 150 W modeling lights. But, the scanner light is roughly daylight balanced while the modeling lights are tungsten.

      (A potentially interesting alternative might be the modeling light on the speedlight — that’s a second or so of rapid-fire low-level flashes. Probably won’t work, but it’s worth the experiment.)

      Quite the photographic challenge you’ve presented us with, Jerry!



        1. Yeah — that’ll be the hard part.

          I’ve already got one scan of his nether-bits set in a field of black. I imagine some kittens and maybe ten-year-old boys might find it funny, but I doubt it’s what you have in mind….


  4. Well I’ll give it a try but I can’t see Heidi going for this for one minute. She’s the original ‘scaredy cat’. As noted above it will be one shot venture, do or die.

  5. I am having trouble getting the lid to close. I placed an anvil on top, but the effect was not as desired. Any advice from the experts?

  6. Wow. Much harder than it looks. My scanner scans once, then you have to resize it and “accept.” Then it scans again. My cat was long gone by then… will try again when she’s not so disturbed.

    Got an interesting view of catnip, though!

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