Eyeglasses: Distortion And Glare
Unwanted reflections in eyeglasses can be very stressful for those starting
out with studio lights. It used to be fairly common for a studio photographer
to either physically remove the lenses from frames or substitute glassless frames
for a portrait. And it wasn't always just for the sake of reflection.
Distortion of the cheek line behind the glass would be fairly evident for those
with thick lenses. So without glass in the frames, there are no reflections
and no distortion.
But the times and photographic approaches have changed. Rather than think in
terms of eliminating distortion in the glass, consider how abnormal the subject
would look without the distortion people are accustomed to seeing with that
person. Personally, I prefer to keep the distortion for authenticity's
The easiest way to avoid glare in glasses is to have the subject turn slightly
away from the primary light source. Remember, the angle of incidence equals
the angle of reflection, and you don't want your subject's eyeglasses
to inadvertently bounce studio lights into the camera lens (#3). Keep in mind,
however, that major repositioning may disrupt other elements you want to maintain.
For #4, a gobo was introduced between the main light and the subject (#5)
to cast a subtle shadow across the ear, shoulder, and lower part of the jaw.
This not only cut down the hot light on the shoulder and ear, but helped give
a little of a slimming effect to the face. A gobo (short for "go between"),
also called a flag, is just an object placed between the subject and light source
to modify the light. In this case, it was placed at the end of a stand-mounted
LiteDisc Holder and adjusted to cut down the light in the area where it was
too strong (#5).
For the next shot, I had the subject turn into the main light for narrow lighting.
The glasses were tilted downward, thus raising the arms up slightly on the sides
of the face. Note that this usually only works for a fairly straight-on shot
where the person has some hair to cover the frames at the ears (#6).
Additionally, the main and fill lights were raised slightly to help prevent
the reflections from showing up in his glasses. Just keep in mind that the higher
you position the main light, the more you risk adversely affecting the light
modeling on the face.
Here are some key facial features to look out for:
· Subject has a crooked smile. Ask your subject to smile while looking
straight on into the camera and for ¾ views. Look to see if the smile
is uneven or appears more flattering from a particular angle or head tilt. If
the smile rises higher on one side, your results will likely be better if your
subject tilts that side down, which will minimize the appearance of unevenness.
· Subject's teeth/gums are less than perfect. Some teeth flaws can
be concealed by shooting at certain angles, or by having your subject give "closed-mouth"
smiles. If excessive gums show during a full smile, try coaching your subject
to give more of a partial smile.
· Be cognizant of receding hairlines or of a hairstyle that photographs
better from one side. If the optimal angle of the hairstyle conflicts with the
optimal angle of the smile, for example, you may want to restyle the hair.
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