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Management of Eyeglasses in Portraiture (Tutorial)
Nov 11, 2019 19:44:12   #
E.L.. Shapiro Loc: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
There are several methods to prevent unwanted reflection in eyeglasses in portraits.

Part 1

It helps if you fully understand how the angle of incidence theory works, that is, the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection.

The next thing to realize is that folk who regularly wear eyeglasses should be photographed with the glasses in place for two important reasons. They are more recognizable and natural with the glasses on and in the glasses are removed, without the use of contact lenses, the subject may become uncomfortable focusing on the lens or another target point to establish eye contact or to direct and center the eyes- the resulting images may have a strained expression or stare. need to mange the eyeglasses.

One method is to carefully raise the main light until the reflections disappear, however, you still must have sufficient illumination in the eyes to provide shadow detail, sparkle, and catch-lights. This is a careful and precise adjustment.

A very large main light source such as an umbrella is difficult to control in the above technique. Even if you raise it high enough to eliminate some of the unwanted reflections, however, the light source is so large that part of will still shows in the glasses. A smaller source is easier to control.

Another method is to carefully tilt the glasses very slightly downward, thereby changing the angle of incidence and reflection, This can only be eyeglass' frames in a 2/3 or profile view.

Sometimes I recommend that the client borrow a blank frame, in the same or similar style of their own, from their optician. This is especially important if the lenses are difficult to remove and properly replaced.

There are other issues that may necessitate blank frames. Some opposite, DE-magnification which makes the eyes seem extremely large or small in the resulting images. Sometimes this also DE-magnifies the orbital areas around the eyes and shows as an indentation the subject's head. Some bi-focal or trifocal lenses have viable lines that will show across the eyes.

Part 2

I suppose I can write a book about eyeglasses and portraits, So...I did not include everything and every possibility in my last post and some of the other folks have contributed important points.

Of course, if the client does no wear glass all the time, they may decide to be photographed without them. Some folks just use their glasses for reading or driving and some use contact lenses intermittently. If, however, the always wear glasses, if they just take them off, they might squint and strain,, have difficulty focusing their eyes and that my produce bad expression in the portrait.

Removing the lenses from the frames can be a delicate operation so in out pre-sitting consultation we always advise them to borrow a blank frame, in the same or similar style of their own, from their optical supplier. Most opticians and optometrists are cooperative. Some will have their optician remove the lenses. Sometimes, however, they just let us take a few screws from metal frames and carefully reassemble the glasses after the shoot. With some plastic frames, the lenses pop in and out easily if you know how to do that. Some eyeglasses are prescribed to correct stabismus or tropia (crossed eyes) have especially ground and mounted prism type lenses and those have to be attended to by an optician. These lenses usually have to be left in place for photography or the subject's eyes will become misaligned.

For frameless glasses, we use thin wire frames as substitutes.

Sometimes I can work with the regular glasses simply by adjusting the lights as I explained previously. Problem is, as per the angle of incidence law, I may be limited in how many different views of the face (full face, 2/3 and profile) I can shoot when the appropriate lightings are employed. Or -suppose I need to lower the main light to photograph a person with eyeglasses and a hat, as in a military portrait.

In my case, I usually do a pre-sitting consultation a week prior to the shoot so everybody is aware of these issues as well as all the other preparations and has time to make the necessary arrangements.

I also previously mentioned that tilting the glasses downward may be limited to a full face camera angle as the slant on the temples of the frames may look unnatural.

I never use a CPL or any polarizing filter on portraits. They may remove the reflections but the will also take the diffuse and specular highlight with them.

I am mostly concerned with the main light as to reflections. I generally use a bounce fill that is high enough and behind the camera to evade the eyeglasses. I do not want to restrict myself to extreme side light just to address the glasses- I want to be able to use every kind of lighting form; butterfly, modified butterfly, Rembrandt, split, or kicker without unwanted reflections. I want to select the pose lighting with best suits the subject. Bringing in the fill light for the opposite direction of the main light, other than a flat position may yield cross-lighting or dis-unified lighting.

Sound like a lot of trouble? Well, it is said that the "eyes are the windows to the soul" so it is extremely important to render them beautifully in a portrait, even when the subject wears eyeglasses.

Nov 11, 2019 19:58:11   #
RichardTaylor Loc: Sydney, Australia
Thanks very much.

Nov 12, 2019 07:23:10   #
yssirk123 Loc: New Jersey
Bookmarked this post - thanks for sharing!

Dec 11, 2019 18:34:35   #
I used to take lenses out of frames, etc. but I stopped doing that.

If I have a pair of glasses that I can't get rid of the reflection with posing and raising the lights slightly, I simply photograph them and then tell them to freeze their head position. Remove the glasses and photograph them again.

Then use the "glasseless" pose as a "donor file" for the eyes only. Replace the "glare in the eyes" pose with a glare-free set of eyes and mask out the bad reflection in Photoshop. You only mask out the lens part of the glasses that reflect. You keep the frames. I can do it in about the time it took me to write this down.
You may need to adjust the levels output to give a slight darkening effect to the lens area. As you know, lenses do not transmit 100% of the light, so there is always a slight darkening of the eyes behind the lens.

Good luck.

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