Catch Lights in Photography in 5 Simple Steps

Catch lights in portrait photography bring depth into portraits.

A definition.

What is a catch light? Wikipedia defines it as follows: “A catch light may be an artifact or lighting method, or have been purposely engineered to add a glint or “spark” to a subjects eye during photography”

If you look at the photo of Ice, my dog, he has a catch light in his eyes. This gives the photograph more depth and him a sparkle in his eyes.

Why catch lights?

Catch lights create dimension and depth in portraits. Without it the portraits can seem dull and lifeless. It helps to make the subject feel alive.

1. How to create catch lights.

In natural light position your subject at an 45 degree angle facing the light. If you are indoors that can be a window or a door for instance.

Outside in open shade use reflectors, like a small silver one placed in the lap of your subject to bounce the light into the eyes.

To read more about natural light in photography go here:

2. Catch lights and size.

The closer your subject is to the light source, the larger is the sparkle or light in their eyes. The size and shape of them vary depending on your light source also.

3. Position of catch lights.

Make sure the catch lights are in the same position in both eyes. The best position seems to be at a 10 o’clock or 12 o’clock position.

4. Study and practice.

Study other photographers portraits in relation to the light in the eyes and see what resonates most with you. And then go out and practice, practice, practice.

5. Post processing.

If you dislike the catch lights, but you love the portrait you can fix this easily in programs like Photoshop.


Now it’s your turn: Practice capturing the sparkle in your subjects eyes and comment below.



Using Natural Light in Photography in 8 Simple Steps

Today I am exploring how to use natural light in photography. I compiled eight simple steps to help guide you through the process.

Working with natural light in photography is very rewarding, if you know a few things on how to use it efficiently. Let’s face it. Not everybody has a professional photo studio, thus natural lighting is the most accessible solution to great photos.

There is a way to do it and there are some things you should avoid. Pretty simple, once you get the hang of it.

Meet Raven. I took this photo indoors close to large windows and with good natural light.

I have done my share of mistakes. Even recently while shooting pictures for this website. Until I started realizing what I did. I will have to wait for warmer weather for a re-shoot. Since right now we are in a windchill advisory and Tuesday morning is supposed to be -30 F with the windchill….way to cold for an outdoor shoot. But natural light is not only outside. There is plenty of it right inside your home. You can use these tips with people or like me with dogs or other pets. I just adore the newest addition of the family, Raven. She’s now 10 weeks old and growing like a weed.

1. Start with simple lighting situations

Don’t over-complicate things. Focus on only one lighting situation. Have one source of light and position the subject to face the light. Be almost in between the light and your subject.

2. For outdoor shoots, shoot in open shade

Open shade is the shade you get from buildings and structures. Or shoot on an overcast day. Avoid direct sunlight, as it casts harsh shadows. And if you shoot photos of people they will squint being in the direct sun.

3. Use catchlights

Catchlights are the reflections of the light in your subjects eyes. They give the eyes this little bit of sparkle.

4. Avoid dappled shade

Dappled shade is the shade you get underneath a tree, where spots of light come through. These turn often into blown highlights, where some parts of the picture are too light.

5. Avoid several different light sources

The reason for avoiding these, is that you can only set one color temperature or white balance at your camera, not several. If you use several different light sources, like natural light and a lamp then you get different color temperatures, which result in a color cast on the photo.

6. Use the golden hour

The golden hour is the period shortly after sunrise or before sunset, when the light is soft and angled.

7. Choose a low aperture indoors

Set your f-stop or aperture low. It will do two things: It helps you use all the light available indoors and it gives you a shallow depth of field, where your subject is in focus and the background blurry.

8. Use a reflector

Use a reflector to bounce natural light back on your subject. Thus avoiding shadows that are too deep.


These are simple tips that you can use anywhere you have natural light. Even inside your home. Just get close to your windows and turn off your lights and you’ll see what I mean.

Share below your pictures of using natural light.