Project 52: Catchlights

This week’s topic is Catchlights. I never realized it until recently, but I am obsessed with making sure the pets I photograph have catchlights, even if I have to add them myself. Just a little light can add so much personality into the shot.

Below are two photos… one without catchlights and one with. Sweet 11-year old Oscar has very dark eyes and they just don’t grab the light easily. My own dog is the same. I learned in a workshop I attended last year that you can further enhance existing catchlights (very subtly) by using the history brush tool in Photoshop. We were actually in a church and a flash would have added those needed catchlights, but Oscar’s caretaker told me that he doesn’t like flash. So, what I did was use the clone tool and grabbed something light (either the white in his fur or the tile) and just dropped it lightly on his eyes. I think he has much more appeal with them.

Oscar with no noticeable catchlights
Oscar with catchlights

Kelly Garin Photography, Columbia, SC is the next one in this loop.  Click on over to see how she caught the catchlights.


14 thoughts on “Project 52: Catchlights”

  1. Very nice on your part to not use flash with this dog. I recently got some continuous LED lights to try out at the shelter for just this reason – to not scare the dogs with the flash popping off.

    1. John – I started using continuous lights (Westcott TD6) at the shelter several years ago. But, I eventually did not like the quality of the light. I too was nervous about the flash, but I took the plunge. I’ve been using the Paul Buff strobes since July and haven’t had one dog or cat get nervous, and I do about 8-15 animals a week.

  2. Really cool! I will have to try adding catchlights to a few of the photos that do not have them….just need to figure out the best placement for them and also how large to make them? Love your example – shows that it actually can be done in post and how effective it is!

    1. They’re usually placed in the 10 o’clock location of the eye. Determining how big or small comes with practice. I know that Laura Shoe (who has some terrific Lightroom tutorials) has a small one on adding catchlights.

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