Thursday, August 20, 2009

catch light - how to get it


This is Jack - my adorable, chubby, maddening, sweet beagle. He has some of the biggest hound dog eyes around - don't you just want to give him something to eat? (Hence why he is chubby - that and if you don't give him something to eat, he will find a way to get it himself. Like the time he pulled down two loaves of Challah bread from the kitchen counter and ate them surreptitiously in the back yard, only to BARELY fit through his doggie door because his stomach had expanded so much. But I digress).

See that light reflection in his eyes? That's called catch light - it's the light from the sky above us that is reflected in his eyes. If you look closely enough you can see the outline of me taking a picture of Jack. Here are a couple more examples:

alice rose

sweet Alice Rose - the catch lights in her eyes are from a window to the side of her.

2009-04-04 at 16-45-11

my little one enjoying her cake on her 1st birthday - my girls' eyes are VERY dark brown, but even so you can see the reflection of blue sky in her eyes.

Why are catch lights important? They give depth and definition to the eyes, which is highly desirable in portrait photography. How big the light is and where it lands on the eyes is directly related to the light source - direct light, indirect light, flash, reflectors, strobes, etc. - each of these will create a different reflection in the subject's eyes. The catch light examples above are all natural light.

Some would say that portraits, especially close ups, are dull and lifeless without catch lights. I like catch lights, but I wouldn't go that far. It's a matter of personal taste and preference. You can even add catch lights post production - click here for a tutorial.

I don't use Photoshop personally, but I do know there are Photoshop tricks and actions used to brighten the eyes - but beware of going overboard. Click here to see what can happen if you get a little too Photoshop-happy around the eyes...

Fingers I may have the chance to photograph a VERY newborn baby at the hospital for some dear friends - so excited!

And as promised, lesson no. 2 is on its way...