Avoiding catchlight, possible?

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Hamster, May 11, 2006.

  1. Hamster

    Hamster Member

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    Recently, I made a close-up potriat where I used a fast lens and have the depth of focus on the eyeball only, everything went accroding to plan except the reflection of strobe light and window frame were in the subject's eyes, which I find very distracting. This have been bugging me since and i would really like to know if there are any way I can avoid or minimise catchlight? Or is retouching the only way to go.
     
  2. Marco Gilardetti

    Marco Gilardetti Member

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    A polarizing filter?
     
  3. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Polarizer, and use soft boxes over your strobes to diffuse the light, change your angle a small bit in relation to the subject...most of all lots of practice to see how the lights reflect is good as well.
     
  4. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Don't think for a moment that what Photoshop allows you to do with the clone tool began with Photoshop. On ebay, I bought some instructional pamphlets on retouching that simply amazed me with the extent to which portraits and other kinds of photographs can be and have been retouched. My father, who, as an amateur LF portrait photographer, entered his work in exhibitions in Philadelphia in the late '40's and early '50's (and did quite well with them) had no qualms about routinely retouching out extra catchlights or other 'defects' as he perceived them. You can use good lighting technique up to a point, but after that, if you need to, grab the 000 brush and spotting fluid and go to work.
     
  5. Hamster

    Hamster Member

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    I have read somewhere that people used to "retouch" negatives with razor blades. Really am amazed the efforts people put in in the past.
     
  6. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Actually up until a few years ago, neg retouching was very comon, we used to do it, in the photo lab that I worked in, both color and B&W, in addition, most enlargements we did, had spotting done to them, I have done away with many a reflection or catch light for customers.


    Dave
     
  7. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    God made eyes with only one catchlight. Two is a seriously unnatural thing, something that the Republications in the crowd should abhore.

    The solution is to spot out the catchlight you don't like.
     
  8. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    The commandments passed down by Moses after he fell down from the mountaintop, were thus:

    Thou shalt have only ONE catchlight, and it shall be between 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock in the eye. It shall also be round.


    Anything other than this, one does at one's own peril.


    As others have said cheating is allowed and that is done with retouching the print.

    These days most people don't worry about catchlights much and in most cases they don't have much affect on the print. If it bothers you retouch it out.

    That being said, pictures with no catchlights look unnatural.


    Michael
     
  9. Lopaka

    Lopaka Member

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    Yes, one catchlight looks natural because there is only one sun in our sky. If you come from a planet with two suns, then you may have two catchlights.. :D

    The only way to retouch it on the negative is to scrape off emulsion.. a process I do not suggest unless you have the specially designed etching knife and much time to develop the skill to use it. I don't think they are made any more. (I still have mine, but haven't used it in 40 years) Spotting the print may be the only answer.

    Bob
     
  10. KenS

    KenS Member

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  11. Christopher Nisperos

    Christopher Nisperos Member

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    Hi Hamster,

    Your question seems to ask about future portraits, and not necessarily the current one which so irks you. I would say the solution is to raise your strobe a bit, either handheld or by using a bracket.

    I don't exactly understand where the window frame reflection comes in (perhaps you could post a photo). Was this portrait "natural light-plus-fill-flash"?

    Lastly, —and maybe I'm being too technical about it, but— I've always considered a "catchlight" as being the tiny, point-like reflections in the eye which result from sources such as flash, bulb/spot or sun, as opposed to the broad reflections from a window. This picky difference will suddenly become important in determining how to solve your problem. You can't just "raise a window a bit", as with the strobe!
     
  12. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Quite true Dave. I remember a time as I recall in my Camera Club days when people would even retouch and/or paint directly on transparencies.

    Rich
     
  13. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    First, it's important to remember that 1) catchlights in some form or another are desirable, and 2) attractive catchlights are a side effect of good lighting. Eliminating them by changing the direction of your light source means employing lighting that is not terribly flattering for most portrait work.

    Secondly, the idea that catchlight must be single, round, and specifically placed on the eye is rather old school, and really can only apply to studio-lit portrait work. Try photographing a person outdoors in "good" light, i.e. open shade or other soft, sun-sourced, diffused light, and you'll see larger, more numerous, multi-shaped catchlights. Is that a bad thing? Of course not. Your catchlights will look like your light and your light source.

    If you're finding that your catchlights are distracting, you may need to reevaluate your lighting choices.

    If you absolutely must have single, round, specifically placed catchlights....well, you'd hate most of my work. :wink:
     
  14. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    hmmmmmmmm, I was going to let this thread slide by, then I read Cheryl's
    post! She hits the nail right on the head! What a great post Cheryl, I agree with you 100%.

    Now on corrective retouching, You are going to have a tough time removing a catchlight or reflection on a B&W/color negative with dye or pencil. You must either retouch the print, or use an etching knife. An exacto or a very sharp needle can be used with great care on some things. The work requires removing a very tiny layer of emulsion, kind of like laser eye surgery.

    Charlie..............................

    BTW, I started doing corrective retouching in 1947 and was instructed by the same gentleman that tought Veronica Cass. (A shameful name drop!)
     
  15. catem

    catem Member

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    Thanks for that post, Cheryl. I was beginning to wonder...
     
  16. Hamster

    Hamster Member

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    Thanks for all the input, I never thought there is so much to it. the "potriat" i really have in mind is actually a head and shoulders shot of some fluffy toy amimals, in the end I rubbed a thin layer of neutral shoe polish to slightly matt the surface of the plastic eyeball, and it proved satisfactory. However, when doing real people potriat I am sure the hint above will be greatly appreciated.