Catch light (or catchlight) is a photography term used to describe either the specular (the bright spot of light that appears on shiny objects when illuminated) highlight in a subject’s eye from a light source, or the light source itself. Below are listed ideas, not hard and fast rules. They are guidelines you might find helpful.
By their vary nature, catch lights are specular highlights that will often “blow out,” meaning they will be pure white. There are many highlight purists who think there should never be any area of a photograph that is overexposed. Think about your image and in the case of catch lights, experiment with your highlights and their value and density.
Many photographers prefer round catch lights to square or rectangular but that’s not always possible to achieve. Square and rectangular softboxes exist and often you have to improvise. The reason is simple - the Sun is round so your light source should more closely mirror what nature has to offer. You are trying and mimic the most natural lighting – the sun.
3. Position and Balance
Pay close attention to the position of catch light in the eyes of your subject BEFORE you shoot. While there is no perfect or “correct” position, there are less flattering ones. Catch lights are more flattering if they look natural, so try to place them at 10 o’clock or 2 o’clock. Is there a wrong catch light position? Below 9 o’clock or 3 o’clock can be unnatural, so watch your light sources before you make the final lighting decision.
And remember, catch lights need to balance. If the catch light in the left eye is positioned at 10 o’ clock, be sure to balance that out by placing the catch light in the right eye at 10 o’clock, too. Subjects appear cross-eyed if the catch lights otherwise.
4. Number of catch lights
Depending on the lighting, It can be distracting to see more than one catch light. So while it’s often unavoidable to have more than one, it’s not difficult to either add or remove catch lights using Photoshop. You can decide which catch lights are most flattering and natural looking and remove the rest.
Experimenting with and paying attention to catch lights will make you a more observant photographer.
|The triangular catch lights here are at 7 o'clock, not ideal but not unnatural-|
the light source was bouncing off the floor but only hit the eye to the left.
|Uneven catch lights.|
|Duplicating the catch lights from the right eye to brighten the left eye.|
Due end of class April 18