Catchlight is a term you may not be familiar with. It is defined as a light source reflecting on the surface of your subjects eye, producing a light spot/sparkle on the eye. It is this catchlight that often gives life to the portrait. When a photo doesn't have catch lights, it can sometimes feel dull or flat. You may not know why that is, its just a feeling the image gives, but often it is because there are no catchlights in the eyes.
Any light source can produce catchlights. This includes the sun, a static light, a flash. As the photographer you can control the placement of these catchlights. Light sources coming from below will produce catchlights in the bottom of the eye and light sources from above will produce catchlights in the top of the eye. Catchlights on the top of the eye tends to be more pleasing since it replicates what the sun will naturally do.
If you are using natural light, simply face your subject towards any light source, an open sky is a good choice or if inside, towards an open door or window or any reflective surface.
If you are using an artificial light, you can easily control the placement of the catchlight by placing your light sources directed at your subject. You can also control the shape of the catchlight. A circular artificial light will produce a circular catchlight, whereas a square on the end of your light can produce a square catchlight. Is Square or circular better? This is really personal preference but round ones are more natural looking.
This first image was taken outside but with flash, so the catchlight was produced by an artificial light. This is Rosie. A super wiggly lab who looks really serious in this photo don't you think?
This next photo was taken indoors with a flash.
If you look closely at the eyes, you'll notice the catchlight on the left eye is round, whereas the catchlight on the right eye is square. That is because there were two artificial lights; one round and one square.
There are of course ways of adding or removing catchlights in software such as photoshop after the photo has been taken, but do yourself a favor and get in right in camera. It will save you a lot of work.
To see what other pet photographers have written about catchlights, head on over to see the post from photographer Shelly Ellis of Shelly Ellis Photography (servicing Orangevale and Greater Sacramento, CA)
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Keywords: dog, dog photographer, dog photography, fill the frame, nh, pet, pet photographer, pet photography, photography, sandra mccarthy photography
Nice photos! Both good looking dogs!
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