(2) Catchlights in the eyes. One method of placing the main light, regardless of the type of
lighting technique, is to watch the resulting catchlight (reflection of the light) in the eyes. The catchlight
adds life and brilliance to a portrait and gives the eyes sparkle. As seen from the camera-lens position,
these catchlights should be located at approximately the 1 o'clock or 11 o'clock position in the eyes.
There should only be one catchlight in each eye and it should be high in the iris of the eye.
Adding fill and subsequent lights to the main light may create more than one catchlight in each eye.
These extra catchlights should be spotted or retouched out in later operations because more than one
catchlight in an eye is distracting.
If the main light does not create the catchlights or causes them to be low in the eye, a proper catchlight
can sometimes be obtained from the fill light or even another low intensity light placed in front of the
subject where it produces the catchlight reflection where wanted.
To position electronic flash units, you will have to rely on modeling lights. Modeling lights
are small, incandescent bulbs that are contained in the flash head unit to provide illumination
for the proper placement of the lights. The use of modeling lights takes experience because
they are often much weaker than the resulting flash.
b. The Fill Light (figure 1-4). This light is used to lower the lighting ratio (filling in the
shadows created by the main light) and should not create any shadows itself.
(1) Location. Generally the fill light is diffused, used close to the camera at lens height, and
placed on the side of the camera opposite that of the main light. Almost inevitably, the fill light will add
a lower pair of catchlights to the eyes. As stated before, these secondary catchlights are usually
considered objectionable, not so much because they tend to refute the basic principle of one main light
source, but because they often create the impression that the subject has a directionless stare.
Consequently, this second pair of catchlights should be removed.
(2) Caution. Fill light height can sometimes eliminate the second catchlight, but take care
not to nullify the fill-in effect. The cause of most of the poor quality in civilian or military portraits is
the improper use of the fill light.