Peep These Simple Tips for Photographing Eyes

Eyes are one — well, two — of the greatest challenges in portrait photography. A portrait with expressive eyes will grab the viewer. But the reverse is true, too: If the eyes are dull or blurry, the viewer's gonna look away. Luckily, there are a few tricks that can help you get the effect you want.

Use a macro lens

A macro lens can make closeups easy thanks to its superior magnification. Try a 100mm or even more for the best shots. You can even get a macro attachment for your iPhone, if that's your thing. Shooting with a regular lens can make it difficult to get near enough for the eye to fill the entire frame. Besides, you might block the light or get reflected in person's eye and cause a #photo #fail.

Aim for the iris

It always helps to focus your camera on the colorful part of the eye, since it's the most interesting and unique part of a person's face. The iris is also easier to autofocus on because of its color contrasts.

Create a catch light

A catch light is the white spot that shows up in the eyes and adds that special spark. It is a reflection of the photographer's light source. To capture catch lights, try using a softbox, an umbrella, a ringlight or the natural light streaming from a window or door. Keep the light continuous to prevent your subject's pupils from dilating or constricting.

Get the correct speed and opening

You need to strike a balance with a macro lens and its aperture (or opening). You may need to close down the aperture to f/5.6 or less in order to get everything in focus. But the trade-off is having a slower shutter speed, which can make for a blurrier picture, or a higher ISO, which can affect the light. So you'll need to decide whether speed or sharpness is more important to you. If you are holding the camera in your hands you need to have a shutter speed of 1/100 second or more (for 100mm lens) to keep things from getting too blurry.

Work with your subject

Ask your subject to look directly into the lens, so in the photo it'll seem as if he or she is gazing at the viewer. But don't ask your subject to stare at the light — if it's bright it can damage the eye or at the very least cause squinting. Then work quickly and take lots of breaks. That will keep the person happy, which will really show up in their eyes.

November 20, 2018
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Peep These Simple Tips for Photographing Eyes