Trouble with Catchlight in eyes..Help

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by roger_k, Jul 3, 2004.

  1. Hi there, Here's my equipment, Canon 10D, 50mm/1.8, 85mm/1.8 & 70-300.
    I have 3 550ex flashes and the remote transmitter also a sto-fen
    softbox. Here's my issue, when I shoot portraits, I have trouble
    getting the catchlight in the subject's eyes. I do not like to use
    flash straight on the subject because it is harsh and unpleasing to
    the eye. Can anyone give me some tips for getting that catchlight in
    the eyes? I do not want to shoot straight on. I would rather bounce
    off the walls or use the sto-fen?
  2. Hi Roger,

    Sounds like a sledgehammer to crack a nut ! Anyway the lighting forum would
    probably give you a fuller answer but I would say; unless you need the three light
    setup for seperate backgroud lighting then do this.

    Forget the ST-E2 use a 550EX as your sending unit, get the other two flashes how you
    want the person lite then with the on camera flash use the catchlight mode, that is
    bounce straight up with the wide angle diffuser pulled out. I've got some great
    catchlights with one on camera flash in this mode.

    Take care, Scott.
  3. The catchlight will be there *IF* the flash/box is/are positioned correctly (the angle to subject). It has nothing to do with the harshness of the light. The shape of your box (light source) will determine the shape of the catchlights. If your box is square the catchlights will be square. If it's circular, so will the catchlights. Here are two quick examples with a soft box (square catchlights) and an umbrella (circular catchlights). I would strongly suggest you start with ONE light with a soft box and go from there.
  4. Umbrella...
  5. The first pix was a studio strobe, the 2nd is one 550EX with an umbrella.

    Forget the suggestion about using the on-camera flash for catchlight, it is nonsense. As I have said, start with ONE 550EX and one umbrella (with maybe a reflector). Get intimately familiar with the light and its quality then, add flashes from there.

    If you look in my folder, most pictures are taken with one or two 550ex.

    If you need more help feel free to email me as this is not really the lighting forum :)
  6. Sorry - the above should say *Umbrella Box* - like this one (note the 550EX attached to it). That's ALL you need to get started and to get good quality light and great catchlights.
  7. ONe final thing: the reason I said the "on camera flash is nonsense" is because:

    1) it is NOT necessary

    2) you do NOT want catchlights on the center of the eyes, rather on the side.
  8. Here's a shot using a 1Ds, a 70-200 2.8 IS at about 135mm, a 550EX at -1.5 stops, plus a Lumiquest Soft Box that attaches directly to the 550EX with velcro.
  9. And here's a 100% crop.
  10. You don't need any flash at all for a good catch light. The below photo was taken with no flash at all. Canon EOS 10D + 50/1.4 at f1.4 The catchlight is from a low hanging ceiling light about 4 feet behind me.
  11. Personally I find the Stofen of limited use. It's quick to use and very compact, but it's only of any benefit in very small rooms with white walls and ceiling. Furthermore, even under these circumstances it still won't deliver really convincing catchlights because the light source is just too small. The main function of the Stofen is to scatter light more broadly so that some will bounce back off the walls and slightly fill in the shadows. It helps, but it's not very controllable, and if you're indoors and close to the subject then the direct flash output will completely overwhelm the bounced component of the lighting. Used for fill outdoors the Stofen is almost completely useless.

    What you need is a small or medium umbrella on a light-stand, with the 550EX bounced into it. The umbrella should be off to one side and a little above the subject's eye-line. It would help if close on the other side of the subject there was a white wall, a reflector, or another 550EX/umbrella set up (at one stop lower output). This will give you the indoor results you're looking for without spending a fortune (you've already got the most expensive components). The beauty of digital is that you can preview the results immediately and adjust your lighting accordingly, so you don't really need the modelling light facility of studio strobes.

    For outdoor fill I'd recommend either the umbrella set up (if there's no wind!) or the Lumiquest Soft Box for faster work and more convenience. But with the Lumiquest use your longest lens and get in close, catchlights are all about the size of the light source relative to the distance between the flash and the subject. Also the on-camera Lumiquest is not quite so good in the vertical format as the flash is then too low and off to one side.

    If you're really serious about outdoor flash then you're looking at a set up like Quantum T4d's with radio slaves and a Stroboframe bracket, or a Hensel Porty. These are complex, big money options and you can get nearly as good results with the judicious use of reflectors and your 550EX's.
  12. mjd



    That's a neat looking umbrella box setup. Can you indicate what brand and size it is? Thanks. MD
  13. The Lumiquest Box works VERY well for quick,portable on-camera (or off camera) flash. I have two of those and they stay in my bag at all times.

    The umbrella pictured is the Photek Softlighter II 36 in. (the smallest they make)
  14. mjd


    Thanks for the tip! MD
  15. >>Thanks for the tip! MD<<

    no prob - make sure you buy from B&H or Adorama :)
  16. Giampiero, many thanks for being so gracious about my comments! As Gary's picture
    so aptly demonstrates on camera flash can be used very effectively to create

    The truth is it depends on what look you are after, as you demonstrate over produced
    looking studio shots can be created well with one flash, as Gary demonstrates daylight
    fill and catchlights can be done well with on camera flash, but closest to my style is
    Richard who demonstrates that no extra lighting is needed in the vast majority of
    cases for catchlights. The best book to demonstrate this is Steve McCurry's Portraits,
    no flash hundreds of portraits 95% with natural catchlights.

    Take care, Scott.
  17. Scott - no offense meant, which is why I qualified my comments with an explanation.

    You suggested overkill with the sledgehammer reference yet, also suggested that the *only* way to get catchlight would be to use two flashes, one off camera for the main light and an on-camera unit for the catchlight. That is definitely overkill and nonsense from a purely technical point of view, NOT personal :)

    Catchlight can in fact be created by using a window, a white card with natural light, etc... but, that was not the question of the poster. We are not discussing style here. We are discussing catchlight in the *studio*, only.

    Whereas, you inferred that the poster should "forget" about the other flashes and use *only* on-camera flash for creating catchlight.

    Sorry if I didn't make that clear.
  18. >>As Gary's picture so aptly demonstrates on camera flash can be used very effectively to create catchlights. 008kLC-18647084.jpg
  19. Giampiero,

    Your answers stagger me, first you put words into my mouth and then you accuse me
    of putting words into your mouth, then you go on to prove my original post better
    than I could !

    For a start Rogers question wasn't very specific, (there is for instance no mention of
    studio but you have assumed it and criticised me for not doing so)) the reason I gave
    the advice I did was not because I thought or implied that on camera flash was the
    most realistic, best or only way to get catchlights, it was because in my experiance it
    is practically impossible NOT to get catchlights useing this method. I don't know why
    you think I am implying it is the only way to do it, I did not and am not saying that.
    You also say "the catchlight will be there *IF*the flash/box is/are positioned correctly"
    My method requires no critical positioning.

    You agree with me that the equipment list is overkill and you suggest useing less of it
    than I do so how am I wrong ? My suggestion is obviously not nonsense as you go on
    to prove so succesfully with your last shot useing my setup. In my opinion far and
    away your nicest shot of the post by the way.

    "I never said it couldn't" No you didn't and I never said you did, but you did say "you
    do NOT want catchlights on the center of the eyes, rather the side" that was why you
    said "on camera flash was nonsense". YOUR picture proves it IS NOT.

    I hope I do understand your point, that is, that you only NEED one off camera light
    and some skill (with regards positioning) to get nice catchlights in a studio, I agree.
    My point was, if you are having trouble getting catchlights then a practicaly idiot proof
    way of getting them is to use the catchlight mode with a flash on camera to
    suppliment your other lighting. If you had posted diagrams of where Rodger needed
    to put his light and model then you would have helped him attain his goal, you didn't,
    you picked on me. I told him how to get catchlight 100% of the time.

    Take care, and I hope I've made that clear, Scott.

    P.S. Your last shot really is a very good picture.
  20. >>I don't know why you think I am implying it is the only way to do it<<

    Not to prolong a useless discussion but here's what you said

    >>Forget the ST-E2 use a 550EX as your sending unit, get the other two flashes how you want the person lite then with the on camera flash use the catchlight mode<<

    to me, that means "that's the way to do it" - whenever you say "forget X" that's what it means. Just like I said "forget the nonsense about on-camera flash".

    But, again I was answering to the specific question and to that respect I even suggested the poster contact me *directly* as this is NOT the lighting forum.

    I didn't pick on anyone - rather you got offended by my "nonsense" word which was intended as a technical one, not personal. Even though I took the time to *qualify* the statement...*before* your reply. Again, sorry if I wasn't clear :)

    Finally, this is not the lighting forum, I am not going to post diagrams here. There are many books on the subject. I offered the user contact me for further help and I posted a photo of a very useful Studio tool which will work with his equipment.

    I think that's plenty.

    You called the Studio shots "overproduced". You don't even know how they were made! I was testing my IR transmitter with my BOX and my son happened to enter the studio twirling his rope. So I snapped a *total of three shots* of which this is one.

    Three shots and one light equate overproduced? I think not...

    Who's picking on whom here? :)

    Same with my daughter eating a cookie - I was testing the box which you see here she woke up and came to see me in the Studio (still wearing her pjs) where I took a snap of her. Do you really think that's "finished" work? I did however, like the shot of my son and it's my portfolio now. But, the ONLY reason to post them' snaps was to illustrate the concept of one light. That's all. I am not discussing styles of studio VS location as it is a moot point. Just like zooms and primes, digital & analog. *They are different*.

    Funny thing is...where's the original poster??? I haven't heard a word from him...after all this bloodshed, after all this pain, the anguish, the stress, the typing :p

    I am glad you liked the last shot (it is a "real" shot after all, not a test)- it was actually at the end of a long day shoot and the model grabbed a rest on the couch. I liked her expression so I was able to take a few snaps of her by quickly grabbing my 550 and 420.

    As always, this is the shot that will be used for her cover...after 100s of others we shot during the day both in the studio and on location! Goes to show, one never know when "the moment" strikes :)
  21. Dear Giampiero,

    You continue to amaze me.

    I did not say "that was the way to do it" (your implying that I'm saying that is the only
    way to do it, come off it you know I'm not) but it is a way to acheive the effect asked
    for with NO placement skills. I answered the question, totaly.

    Nonsense is a strange technical word, your only justification for calling my method
    nonsense is to do with the specific placement of the catchlights within the eyes!
    Hardly convincing, now you're not argueing about catchlights, which was the object of
    the original question, but where they should be within the eye. It is however a rather
    emotive word, suggesting somebody is talking nonsense and then doing what they
    said to show how well their advice works is also strange, but I'm supposed to ignore
    that am I ? My comments were the only ones you criticised so why shouldn't I think
    your picking on me? As you prove my technique works perfectly so who is talking
    nonsense ?

    You did not answer the question, you did show us some pictures taken with one light
    and said "look I can do this with one light" not even specificaly saying how to achieve
    the effect. I alluded to the lighting forum (however Roger is useing a lot of EOS
    equipment) and answered the question in a couple of sentences, with a useful
    technique that would nearly garuantee results.

    I did not say your studio shots were overproduced, I said they have the over produced
    look, there is a difference. How you achieved them and telling Roger he only needs
    one light is all very well but tell him where to put the light otherwise give him a
    foolproof method, oh I did already didn't I ? A picture of a light is not as useful as a
    picture showing where the light should be, you posted it so you should of thought
    how useful it could be.

    I'm not bleeding or in pain or full of anguish, but I do take giving advice seriously,
    there are many questions I don't post on because they have already been answered
    well enough or I don't know a better way of doing things or it's outside my area of
    knowledge, I would rather not say anything than send somebody down the wrong
    path. I always try very hard to be accurate and answer the question, I still believe I did
    that, and even you agree (well your picture does) that my method works, calling it
    nonsense, even if you do then try to mitigate it is wrong.

    Take care, Scott.
  22. >>calling it nonsense, even if you do then try to mitigate it is wrong.<<

    in case you didn't get it, and it seems you didn't, the statement about having to ditch the ST-E2 and dismiss all his other gear in favor of on-camera flash nonsense. And it is, I do not mitigate it at all. It didn't answer the question which specifically requested a flash technique that was *not straight on*.

    And I did answer his question and further suggested he call me if he wants to. The shots don't say "look *I* can do this with one light" rather, they show that *it* can be done with one light.

    If he wanted to know where to put the light he would have replied and asked, no?

    You say you answered his question but you missed his point, so I paste a quote from the poster for you: "I do not want to shoot straight on."

    So, you "answered" his question by telling him to...shoot straight on. Sort of like, someone asks you how to catch a bass and you tell them to go fishing for tuna instead, eh?

    So, to recap: he asked how (and what equipment to use as he refered to Stofen) to achieve catchlight *without shooting straight on*. And that's exactly what I answered.

    I hope this makes it more clear for you.
  23. >>I'm not bleeding or in pain or full of anguish<<

    I was talking about was a *joke* :)
  24. Giampiero,

    I did not say ditch all the gear and use one on camera flash did I ? If I had said that I
    would have been talking nonsense, I said use a 550 instead of the ST-E2 to AUGMENT
    your other lighting, why can't you get that into your head ? Look at my first post again
    it says use the other two flashes to light the person how you want.

    There is as you know, a huge difference between shooting straight on (direct flash
    only) to useing a 550 in catchlight mode on camera augmenting other lighting. The
    technique could not be called direct flash, you are just being argumentative. Hardly
    tuna fishing.

    He did want to know where to put the light, that was the whole point of the
    question. Yes it can be done with one light BUT HOW.

    Your jokes like your technical explanations still fall way short of helping Roger get
    catchlights. Mine as you prove do.

    Take care, Scott.

Share This Page