Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Importance of "Catch Lights" and "Highlights"

I see a lot of photos where you can not see the person's eyes in the photo. Not because the eyes are not in the photo, but because there is a lack of a "catch light" in the eyes making them look blank and lifeless. I call this the "Zombie" or "Dead Eye" look. (In the movies when they want to make a person look like the walking dead, the first thing is to darken the eyes). There's a saying that "The eyes are the window to the soul" and when there's no light in the subjects eyes, the subject looses some of the life in the photo.

No Catch Light (dead)
Catch Light in eyes (life)

Using silver reflector for fill lighting

Catch lights in eyes from silver reflector

Silver reflector used to add light to the scene. (No flash used in this photo)

Catch lights are not only for people. They're also for products, particularly shinny objects.

In the left photo below there is a lack of reflection in the chrome faucet causing its face to appear dark and black. Not having my reflectors or stands to hold them, I used multiple clothes hangers ("MacGyver" mode) to get the white towel into the correct position to reflect in the face of the faucet creating a highlight in the final photo.

No catch light (highlight) in face of faucet
Towel hung on hangers to add a catch light
reflection into the faucet face.

Reflection of towel in chrome adds accents "catch lights" to the chrome faucet.

In the motorcycle photo (bottom) a white reflector was used to add an accent to the side plate of the motorcycle making it easier to see the logo. (the "highlights" are actually the reflection of the white material in the chrome)
Before white reflector.

After addition of white reflector.
Side Note: Because the Fire Department was "On-Call", we were given only two hours to set-up and complete the motorcycle calendar photo-shoot where we came away with 6 different layouts.

Catch lights can be created by any material capable of reflecting light. Materials such as a white T-shirt, aluminum foil, a white wall, mirror, paper, white towel, etc, can be used as a reflector. Be aware that colored items will cast their color onto your subject.