Catchlights.  Press the Trigger.  Ditch Your Flash

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The family reunion was a perfect opportunity to collect a complete set of family portraits.  Here is Ryker, not yet five years old.

Because of the outdoor, open shade setting, it was possible to do three days of shooting with nothing more than my camera, a 70-200mm lens and a brand new $150,000 tractor.

Look at the eyes, and the complicated catchlights. 

I organize a regular series of outdoor workshops, where the challenge is to shoot attractive portraits with a minimum of equipment.  Very often, the participants want to use a flash, to throw light into the eyes and create a catchlight.

If you think about it, however, a flash would add an intense hard white spot in each eye, probably successfully wrecking the interesting play of light that you can see now.

Here, of course, there is the double-whammy challenge.  The usual challenge of lighting the eyes is compounded by the fact that the hat is putting the eyes into deeper shade.

I prefer to resolve the problem in Photoshop.  Those who know Photoshop will know that the technique is very simple.  (Simply add an Adjustment Layer, drag the curve up to the desired level of brightness and mask the layer so that the changes affect only the desired area of the image.)

The Feature Image
Date Taken:  Saturday, July 2, 2016 at 5:03 pm
Camera:  NIKON D800E
Exposure:  1/250 sec at f 5.6 at ISO 500
Exposure Mode:  Shutter Priority
Lens:  Sigma 70-200mm D f/2.8 APO DG HSM
Focal Length:  200 mm (35mm Film Equiv:  200mm)
Flash:  No Flash
Software:  Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.5 (Macintosh)

Here are the Photoshop layers, in the order I would have created them:

* Image layer:  Minor clean-up with the Healing Brush.
* A Frequency Separation group to deal with some minor skin issues.
* Curves adjustment layer, to brighten the area (dodge) under the hat; masked out except for the area of interest.
* A Curves Adjustment Layer, masked to show only the eyes and adjusted to brighten the eyes. 
* A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer, to whiten the teeth by lightening the yellows; masked for only the teeth. 
* Curves Adjustment Layer, set to Multiply Blend, to darken the image green and provide some vignette.

Posted September 09, 2016 at 11:32 am.