Manual Catchlights

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This angle is based on the direction of light falling onto your model so rotate according to the direction of your key light.

This is why catchlights are important for both portrait photographers and their audience

Click the same spot a few times while making the brush consecutively smaller each go to build up the effect which should eventually appear more solid in the middle and softer towards the edges. Start with a "larger" sized brush, click a few times to leave a mark, scale down the brush size, click a few times, repeat.

Next we need to bring this newly created catchlight template into our photo. Open the image you wish to add catchlights into. At this point, the catchlight will probably appear far too large and should be resized. The catchlight outline will most likely be too large for your portrait. Again, the catchlights should be placed and rotated according to the direction of light on your model. If a semi-catchlight is already present then simply drag the layer to the same spot and resize accordingly.

To place it in the wrong spot will be extremely noticeable and look bad.

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Zoom out and have a look. If the effect is too strong, back off. It is very easy to overdo and will be immediately noticed. Finally, duplicate the layer and with the Move tool, slide it over to the second eye with a similar placement. Zoom out and double check the effect. Walk away for a bit and come back. Sometimes taking a break will shed light on a poorly done adjustment you may not have noticed previously.

If the effect is too strong, not strong enough, too large, etc. By placing both the left and right catchlights into a group, we can adjust and move them as a single unit to ensure consistency.

Catchlight Photography (4 Tips to Create Amazing Portraits)

They say the eyes are windows to the soul, and in the case of a portrait, this cannot be overstated. Better yet, because it is saved as a template, it can be applied quickly to any portrait going forward. Looks like in the before and after pic the catchlights are the same shape and brightness, sort of fakey looking.

Home Composite. Posted In:. Thankfully, you can still get beautiful catchlights by using windows or small openings that let light in. The reason why windows create stunning lighting is that they diffuse the light from the sun. Windows also control the light spilling into the room. It creates small specks of light in the eyes that look good in pictures. When shooting indoors, try positioning your model about 45 degrees from the window. But you can also ask your subject to face the windows directly.

You may not see the catchlight as prominently as compared to the degree position. But doing so will light up the irides and reveal the beautiful patterns in the eyes. Shooting with artificial lights can be intimidating for most photographers. The reason is that you have more control over artificial lights than natural light. You can make it brighter or darker with a flick of a switch or a turn of a knob. To create a catchlight with artificial light, you can start with regular light bulbs first. You can try using a lamp and place it about 45 degrees from your subject.

Position the lamp close to your model if you want to create a big catchlight.

Understanding Catchlights

Or place it far away if you want the specular highlight to look small. Once you have enough practice with the lamps, you can start trying off-camera flashes.


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The concept with these devices remains the same. Then attach the receiver to your flash unit.

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You have plenty of modes to choose from when it comes to off-camera flash. But there are a few tips you can apply to make sure your catchlights look perfect. Doing so creates a shallow depth of field.

Add Brilliant Catchlights & Details to Eyes in Photoshop

In other words, it blurs out the background so much that it would make the eyes look sharper and more prominent. Catchlights come in different shapes and sizes depending on the light source. Any shape works as a catchlight. But if you want specular highlights that look natural, try to stick to circular light sources. But to make your portraits look natural, consider editing out other specular highlights until you only have one or two per eye. You can remove catchlights by using simple tools from your favorite editing suite.

The easiest one to use is the healing tool. All you have to do is select the specular highlight you want to remove and the editing program removes it for you. Another tool you can use is the patch tool.


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First, drag it around the catchlight you want to remove to create a marquee. Once you have your selection, drag it once more to the area you want to copy. Once you let go, your photo editor will replace the specular highlight with the spot you selected.