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How to use catchlights

How to find and use catchlights! The #1 trick to make eyes sparkle!

We all want to capture that twinkle in the eye. And while many eyes are enhanced through editing (I’ll give you my trick for that in a bit), the best tip of all is actually a technique to use while capturing the photo! And you don’t need a fancy camera to do it! That’s right, it works for your phone too! This technique is using the catchlights.

So what are catchlights?

It’s literally that twinkle in the eye, where the light reflects off the iris of the eye!

This adds depth to the eyes! And all you need to do to capture this twinkle, is have the right angle of your subject to the light!

How to find and use catchlights! The #1 trick to make eyes sparkle!

How to angle your kids to the light:

Harsh light is bad. If you have to squint, you can’t get the twinkle!

Backlighting doesn’t work very well for catchlights, unless you have a second light source in front of the eyes! If you don’t have this second light source, backlighting usually causes dark holes for the eyes.

Front lighting works fine as long as it’s filtered in some way to not blind your subject. So lighting through a window or in the open shade are both ways to get front lighting without looking at the sun.

Side lighting works so great because it reflects without blinding. But you need to make sure your light source isn’t coming totally from a 180 degree angle to your side because then you will get one eye with the twinkle, and the other will be a dark hole.

The image below isn’t the best example of catchlights, but you can see how the eye in the shadow of the nose sinks into a dark hole.

How to find and use catchlights! The #1 trick to make eyes sparkle!

So the best type of lighting is light that comes in at an angle from the side and can reflect off BOTH eyes! These catchlights give an instant twinkle in the eyes no matter what camera you have in hand!

How to find and use catchlights! The #1 trick to make eyes sparkle!

All three of the images in this post (minus the very first one) were all taken on my phone! So this is a technique no matter what camera you are using.

To enhance the eyes, after I capture the natural catchlight, I like to open my photo in facetune and use the details feature. Just a little bit goes a long way! After all, you don’t want the eyes to look fake!

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