Here is a simple tip to make your life easy while trying to reverse engineer (or in simple words, trying to figure out) lighting of an image. We are going to do this by reading the eyes. Why? Because the eyes never lie(atleast if they are not photoshopped). Take a look inside for examples of catchlight, how to idenify them and use them creatively. LEARN TO SEE THE LIGHT.
Catch lights are simply the reflections of light in the eyes. The light from the studio lights is reflected in the eyes of the model which tells us where was the light placed, how big was the light, how many lights were used? Not only this, you can tell exactly what modifier was used on the light by identifying the shape of reflection. Ofcourse, it helps to know your light modifiers first before you begin identifying them eh!
Okay, specially for the newbies, below are some popular light modifiers.
Square Soft Box
Okay, now lets start identifying them. We have scanned some tear sheets from ads, and cropped the eyes to help you understand clearly. It's like a game.
Square Softbox on top center away from model.
Photographer in front of a huge softbox.
Small square softbox on right and close to model.
Now for some creative catch lights from L'oreal Ads. Take a look below.
This ones tricky. Silver umbrella on top and bottom and another light on the left.
Photog in front of a horizontal strip lite panel OR two strip panels in front leaft n right of model.
Photog in front of a large parabolic reflector.
Once you start identifying ligths on any random image in a magazine, it will be easy to see the light on your shots too. We will leave you with a really awesome behind the scenes video form Pro Beauty Photog Douglas Dubler, where he uses four strip lites as main light to create a square outlined catchlight, kind of like a DIY ring light. You can also see the parabolic reflector put to use in one shots. We have always been a fan of his beauty shots. You can find the video here.