Add a lighthearted touch
Take time to prepare your catchlight before getting your subject involved
01 Bend it, shape it…
Bend a piece of wire or an old metal coat hanger into the shape you want your catchlight to be. (Coathangers are ideal as they have ready-made handles.) Try to keep the shape simple, as if it’s too complex it’ll be difficult to make out when reflected as a tiny catchlight.
02 Attach the lights
Double the fairy lights up a few times, then run them along the shape. Use sticky tape to attach the lights to the metal frame. Make sure the lights are LEDs, as they won’t heat up like old-fashioned fairy lights. And, of course, be careful when using electrical wiring.
03 See for yourself
Turn on the LED lights to see how they look. You can judge the effect by holding it up to your face and using your phone’s frontal ‘selfie’ camera to see how it’s reflected in your eye. If the LEDs are looking too scattered, tuck them in tighter for a more a clearly defined shape.
04 Aim high
The light from the LEDs won’t be very strong, so you may need to use a high ISO. One simple way to do this is to use manual mode, set a wide aperture (in this case f/3.3) and a fast shutter speed of at least 1/100 sec. Then set Auto ISO. This way, the ISO varies depending on the light.
05 Hey! Look at this!
Bring the lights in close to your subject and experiment by moving them around to see how different positions affect the shape and clarity of the catchlight in the subject’s eye. You could also try including the lights in the corner of the frame to add a few bright spots of bokeh.
06 Capture the sparkle
When working at close quarters depth of field becomes very limited (even at narrow apertures). Because of this, precise focusing is critical, and even more so when your subject is moving. Select a focus point over the closest eye and make sure the lashes are sharp.