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Catchlight too big???

Discussion in 'Studio Equipment and Lighting' started by Jetta32696, Apr 1, 2007.

  1. Finally got to use my new octabox with my AB800 this evening. I was able to capture this shot. No cropping, the Woody's skin tutorial applied and that's about it.

    While editing, I noticed that the catchlights from the octabox look HUGE. Is it too big for this photo??? Does it work? I love the shot, but I don't really like the size of the catchlights.... Any comments welcome.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2007
  2. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    I see this effect in some magazine shots. I kinda like it - it's shows the studio lighting equipment, and so defines the type of shot. That focuses the audience in, so your photo gets compared to professionally done photos. That's a good thing.

    Aesthetically, it depends on what you are trying to communicate with the picture. As a commercial shot it's a good thing, as it is, in part, about the photograph. As a portrait, perhaps it distracts from from her just a little bit.
  3. Thanks alot Chris!! I'm still unsure how I feel about it...
  4. Keith,

    I'm not really involved in portraiture, so my opinion is strictly from a viewer's position.

    Personally, I don't care for really large catchlights. Back a million years ago when I was trying my hand at portraiture, I built a 36x36 soft-box light and was really disappointed in the results...........much as you seem to be. When I scraped it and built a smaller one I was happier................not enough happier to end up a portrait photog, but happier!:biggrin:
  5. Thank you Chris. I don't think I'm disappointed, I'm just not sure if this is a good thing or not? 36x36?? My octabox is 47 inch, and it just looks so big I'm not sure what to think about it.
  6. Keith, here is a comparison for you. This is a portrait I made a couple of weeks ago using a 36x36 softbox at about 5 feet from the girl at a little above eye level...I was thinking the catchlights were too small. What do you think?

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    How close was your octabox?
  7. Thanks for the comparison image John! I had the octabox about 2-3 feet from her, probably closer to two feet. I guess I need to move the octabox back a few feet, and that would get the size of the catchlight down a bit. I was between 1/2 and 1/4 power, maybe I'll move it back and crank up the power a little.
  8. This is the classic rock and a hard place problem.

    If you want wrap around lighting with soft diffused shadows you should keep your light source within a distance equal to it's size/diameter. If you have a large light source, you're going to get a better "quality" of portrait light, but if you move it close you're going to get large catchlights.

    On the other hand a smaller light source is going to give you a "harder" edge to your shadows but a smaller catch light.

    It's a Catch-22.

    My litmus test for any of these questions is what I see published in fine fashion magazines, and catchlights are all over the place there. There are round ones from ringlights, square ones from softboxes, linear ones from fluorescent panel lights, you name it. Personally, I don't consider it a factor. There are too many compromises in areas more important to a good portrait if you want tiny catchlights so I just concentate on the big issues and let the minor fall where they may.

    What does bother me greatly about this particular image is the way the mouth is cropped off. Ouch!
  9. Much appreciated Woody!! I didn't mean to chop her lips off, but my shooting space was limited, and for some reason, I wanted to use my 70-200 for a shot or two...this was the tightest shot I could take, and I was just experimenting.
  10. Fair enough, but I'd rather see lips than forehead and I think it could be cropped that way.
  11. That's a great point!! I'll keep that in mind for future shoots. I turned my future mother-in-law's family room into a portrait studio for a few hours. :)  My main subject last night was a saxophone, and I haven't edited any of those pics yet...
  12. rdavid


    Mar 5, 2006
    Bluffton, SC
    Keith, I think you did an awesome job! I love the catchlights. As Woody implied...catchlights in fashion mags are all over the place. They get paid tons of money for those shots, I see nothing distracting at all! Keep it up !
  13. Thanks alot David. It's beginning to grow on me. :)  I guess since this was my first REAL studio lighting shot the catchlights just seemed odd to me.

    I appreciate all the feedback!!
  14. strawman


    Mar 24, 2006
    Missoula, MT
    Definitely see the point...but with the mouth cropped it really places a lot of emphasis on the eyes...and your wife has beautiful eyes...not a bad thing IMHO. Probably not the way you're going to want to do all of your portraits...but it doesn't hurt to do something a little different here.
  15. Thanks Doug. We're not married yet. :biggrin: This is not my typical kind of shot, portrait or otherwise. I'm so happy to finally have some studio lighting that I was just trying different things and testing...
  16. Keith,
    love the shot, the catchlights are fine...lighting is very good...
    I would have cropped the top....cropped to the highest eyebrow, her left eye...
    then the emphasis goes to the eyes...
  17. Thanks Michael!! That crop is right out of the camera... Here's what I came up with based on your suggestion...

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  18. Keith...
    that's exactly the crop I had in mind...
    I think the image looks great....
  19. I appreciate it Michael Thanks for the idea. You've chosen the right screen name. :biggrin: I would have never thought to do that!!!
  20. Keith,
    I like the last cropped version. I never done studio shots, but I was wondering, if her face was facing more toward the camera, would the catchlight be on the white area of her eyes? I'd say do some more experient, Keith, since you have the equipment. Maybe you can look at fashion magazines for comparison.

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