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Thread: Reflection or light on an eye

  1. #1

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    Reflection or light on an eye

    Hi All,

    I started experimenting with my 'new' Graflex Super D. Portrait results are not half-bad. For outdoors shooting do you have any tips for catching a reflection or light reflecting off an eye. Without that my people photos looks a bit 2D even with a nicely bokeh'd background.

    Thanks! Michael

  2. #2

    Re: Reflection or light on an eye

    Its called a catchlight, I think and at one time was considered mandatory for a good portrait. Something white or a reflector held up behind the camera will work.

    One catchlight is good. Two looks amateurish. I think it hints at sparkle in a personality.

  3. #3

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    Re: Reflection or light on an eye

    two catch lights isn't "amateurish". It's pretty much expected.

    This is actually pretty good:
    http://digital-photography-school.co...er-should-know

    It's a matter of where your light is directed. You have to think of the angle that the light is coming in on, and the angle it's getting reflected. If the reflected angle is pointing towards your lens, you'll get a catch light.

    You can reverse engineer a lot of lighting situations by looking at the catch lights.

    For instance, this guy Robert Maxwell fairly consistently uses two strip lights from camera right and left, and a softbox or another strip on top.
    http://weheartit.com/entry/38721388?group=A&imgres=

    You can see it in the reflections there.

  4. #4

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    Re: Reflection or light on an eye

    two catch lights isn't "amateurish". It's pretty much expected.

    Where'd you hear this, from a planet with two suns?

  5. #5

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    Re: Reflection or light on an eye

    Quote Originally Posted by vinny View Post
    Where'd you hear this, from a planet with two suns?
    I have observed it on my few visits to a world where rooms have more than a single window...

  6. #6
    jadphoto
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    Re: Reflection or light on an eye

    Excuse me for butting in here but you guys are talking about two (pun intended) different things.

    You should try to have a (one) catch light in each eye (hence two catch lights). But avoid having two catch lights in each eye.

    At least that's what I think you're trying to say.

    I was taught that the catch lights (one per eye) are essential and should be placed at either the one o'clock or eleven o'clock position in the eye(s). That optimizes the lighting for that particular face.

    JD

  7. #7

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    Re: Reflection or light on an eye

    In a "classic" studio-lit portrait, there often will be two catchlights, one reflecting from the main light, and one from the fill light. I was taught that the secondary catchlight from the fill light should be retouched out of the final image because it looked unnatural.

    I also was taught that a portrait without catchlights in the subject's eyes made the subject look either dead or drunk.

    These conventions kind of disappeared in the 90s when fashion shooters started using big strip lights and soft boxes. They intentionally made models' eyes look like cat's or lizard's eyes by creating big catchlights.

    Photoshop lets you do whatever you want.

  8. #8
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Reflection or light on an eye

    Getting close to a window gives you beautiful light and nice catchlights.
    When I was shooting a lot of head shots, I used a friend's living room; he lived on the third floor, so he had a clearer view of the sky than most apartments in the area.
    His window faced east, so we'd shoot anytime before noon, and get lovely softness, definition and of course, nice eyes.

    Ferelith by White Crystal Dog, on Flickr

  9. #9
    C. D. Keth's Avatar
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    Re: Reflection or light on an eye

    Also, the eyes are reflective enough that whatever is providing the catchlight doesn't necessarily have to be bright enough to do much work lighting the skin if you're making a very low key portrait or doing something primarily edge lit or something like that. Basically a white card lit enough to be white is enough. If you watch the Godfather, there are a lot of very dark eyes in that movie but there are usually catchlights.

  10. #10

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    Re: Reflection or light on an eye

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher D. Keth View Post
    Basically a white card lit enough to be white is enough. If you watch the Godfather, there are a lot of very dark eyes in that movie but there are usually catchlights.
    In MP photography, eyelights tend to be camera-mounted Inky-Dinks or Dedolights - i.e. 250W halogen (or 100W HMI) fresnel spots. A bit more than just a white card.

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