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I Haz Some Tips for LOLcat Photos

Listen up, humans. Us felines are sick of being mocked with the things you call LOLcats. I've seen the greatest kittens of our generation reduced to tired clichés by incompetent photography and poor typography. Frankly, we are sick of it, and it needs to stop. So, I am going to show you how to take better LOLcat photos that pay homage to the sublime beauty of the feline form. Worshipping us isn't difficult, and a few simple steps can give you LOLcats that are smart, amusing and don't make us think about throwing up in your shoes.

1. Take your photo

The best LOLcats come from the best cat photos. To work well, a cat photo should be clear, sharp and well exposed. The photo should have some space around the subject to place the text, and preferably a clean, clear or blurred background. If you start out with a picture that looks like a dried-up hairball, you are going to get a LOLcat that looks like a dried-up hairball, and is about as funny. We cats don't find them particularly amusing, either, but a cat has to do what a cat has to do.

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It's true: We are a finicky species. We don't like having our picture taken, but there are a few simple tips that can help. Taking orders is beneath us, so don't expect us to jump to attention just because you want to take a picture. Instead, clear a space on a couch, table or other surface and place us there, with all due respect. Get down to our level, taking the picture from alongside us, not above us.

For the best photos, set the aperture wide (f/4 or a smaller number) and the shutter speed fast (1/60 of a second or above). Manual focusing can help, as we really aren't good at sitting still for long, waiting for your camera to focus.

Having another human handy is also a good idea, as we are easily distracted. Another human with a squeaky toy or familiar object can distract us for a moment to get the right look to a photo. This can work especially well with the younger members of our species, who are particularly appealing in their wide-eyed youth.

Origional photo by Pinguino k on Flickr

Origional photo by Pinguino k on Flickr

If you have the photographic skills of a geriatric pug, you can still worship at the LOLcat altar. Lots of photographers put their photos out under a Creative Commons license, which means you can take the image, share it and change it as long as you give credit to the original creator. The Creative Commons search engine is a good place to start: Type in "kitten," and select Flickr, and you'll get a good selection of cute kitten photos to work with.

2. Check ur wordz

Creating a LOLcat involves using a particular sub-dialect of the odd language you call English, complete with its own rules and grammar. There is a good guide to the structure of LOLcat here, as part of a project to translate the Bible into LOLcat, and a handy translator here.

The basic rulez are to add as many misspellings as possible, but not really change the pronunciation of the words (word people call this "homonymous misspelling"). So, "have" becomes "haz," "nothing" becomes "nufing" and so on.

3. Process the photo

A little bit of processing can go a long way to making a LOLcat funnier. Images should be cropped in tightly to focus in on the facial expression that makes the image funny (but mind the whiskers; don't crop those out). We also hate it when our glorious coats aren't accurately captured in a photo, so use the color processing features of your image-editing programs to get the color right. Most image-editing programs offer simple tools to correct the white balance.

For instance, take a look at the photo below. (That's me, by the wayz.) It's pretty cute, but it could be improved a little by cropping in to the incredibly handsome subject and doing a small bit of color correction to show the magnificent coat of this handsome beast. 

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4. Create the LOLcat

If you are familiar with image-editing programs like Photoshop Elements, LOLcats are easy to create. Simply load the image and add the text. The best fonts to use are simple, bold ones. Impact is the classic LOLcat font, but others are acceptable as the subject requires. Don't use Comic Sans, though. We hate that font as much as you do.

The font size should be as large as possible, but place the text carefully so it does not obscure the main subject: moi. To make the text stand out, add a black outline and a drop shadow, and make the text white. This helps the text stand out from the image and makes it easier to read. See the example below: The text on the left has no outline or shadow, and is hard to read. The text on the right is much easier to read with it added.

If you don't want to use an image-editing program, there are several online LOLcat creators, such as the LOLcat generator from Big Giant Labs or roflbot. Free apps are also available for Android (LOLcat builder) and iPhone (LOLcat maker) that can use photos taken on your phone or tablet. These don't give you as much control as you get when doing it yourself, but they are easier to use. We've seen you try and use a tin opener; we know how clumsy you are.

5. Enjoy the LOLs.

Now, that was simple, wasn't it? Frankly, we as a species are somewhat disappointed that you needed this sort of guidance. But we will, as always, forgive you in return for a nice head rub and a big bowl of noms. Or perhaps a nice cheezburger.

Follow Richard Baguley @rbaguley or on Google+ Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.