Monday, 3 October 2011

It’s all in the eyes

By Danielle Lancaster
Ever wondered how photographers set up their lighting – well check out the eyes. This is where you can tell what lighting source has been used.

In this portrait a ring flash was used to light the subject.
Image Danielle Lancaster ©

The eyes in a portrait should have catch lights – preferably between 10 and 2. And ideally there should only be one in each eye. I saw an image today that a ‘professional’ posted on Facebook of a shoot they recently did of a young girl. Lovely image of the girl but the eyes had more than one catch light that made her look a little peculiar.
Catch lights make a portrait 'pop'

Some photographers these days also place the catch lights in post processing. We won’t get into that debate here as this article is on lighting and making the eyes pop.

The eyes are usually the first thing we notice when we look at a portrait and without the catch light can look a dark hole. Our eyes can be very powerful in an image and reveal much about the person and their emotion at the time of shooting. As they say ‘the eyes are the window’ to the soul’.

Eyes with without a catch light can look dark and as if a black hole.

Multiple catch lights can make the subject look 'odd'.

When we look at a photo of a face, the first thing we notice are usually the eyes. Eyes themselves make a powerful subject and can say a lot about the person and emotion.
The lighting we use in a portrait is important as it sets the mood. With Side-lighting we can create a very moody image, back lighting can be extremely powerful while direct frontal lighting can flatten the image. 

So next time you are wondering how that image was lit – check out the eyes.

In the image below a soft box was used.
Image Danielle Lancaster ©

In this image above reflector was used while in the image below direct flash was used.
Image Danielle Lancaster ©

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