In photography, lighting is everything. After all, photography does mean painting with light. Whether shooting in natural or studio settings, you will always find a photographer chasing the light. This has never been more true than when photographing portraits. It doesn't matter if your subject is a dog, a cat, a gerbil or a person.
So what exactly are catch-lights? Catch-lights are those specs of light reflected on a subject's eyes. They can be the result of natural light, when you place your subject next to window, for example. They can be reflections from the sun, or if shooting indoors they can be the result of artificial lighting like a lamp, flash or other source of lighting. Regardless of where you're photographing (indoors or outdoors), always try to get that gleam of light your subject's eyes.
Pictured above is Zeke, a sweet and highly intelligent pup I doggy sit for every now and then. We have dubbed him the Philosopher because when you look at him, you can truly see the wheels turning inside his brain. He's always thinking, assessing a situation. Zeke is showing us two examples of natural catch-lights obtained by placing your subject facing the light source - in this case, the sun.
The picture of this Labrador/Border Collie, Silas, was taken inside my vehicle during "Golden Hour". The light was entering the car from the right side, as you can see from the highlights on the right side of Silas' face. So catch-lights can be obtained under many circumstances, not just from artificial or studio lighting.
It is important to make sure your subjects never stare at the sun, not even for a second as this can cause permanent damage to their retinas. Instead, place your subject with the sun in front or to the side to obtain the catch-light effect. Remember, facing the sun does not mean staring at the sun.
On the two pictures below, the sun lights up the dogs' eyes allowing for a reflection of the landscape. The top parts reflect the sky, while the lower parts reflect the snowy landscape.
This beautiful Cattle mix pup is another example of natural catch-lights. The bottom part looks white because it's a snow covered landscape. There were 11 puppies in this litter, every single one of them had absolutely stunning coloration. Needless to say, they were all adopted rather quickly.
Pictured above is Mojo, another pup I doggy sit for. Here we were enjoying a gorgeous sunny day in Northern Wisconsin - it was sunny and probably around 30 degrees - which is almost summer! I had my wide 24-70 on my camera when Mojo came and sat right next to me. He looked towards me and click. I took his photo. His beautiful caramel colored eyes, would not be anywhere near as visible or dramatic if he had been facing away from the sun.
However you achieve them, through natural or artificial means, catch-lights are a simple and beautiful way to brighten up your subjects' eyes and instill life and vibrancy into your photos.
This blog was created as part of a weekly challenge. Each subject encompassing a new focus or photographic technique. Stop by to visit us next week. A new blog will be published each Friday.
To see more examples of this week's theme, please check out:
KME Photography in Minneapolis, MN.