Focus on the eyes

The eyes are the most expressive part of a person.

One thing people forget about smaller-sensor cameras is that it is easier to do close-up photography. Even if the subject is a person, it’s okay to crop everything out, just remember to focus on the eyes. The closer the subject the smaller the depth-of-field gets so even with a small sensor, you have to get the focus just right.


The Richmond, San Francisco, California

Olympus E-PL3, Lumix G 20/F1.7
1/60sec @ ƒ1.8, ISO500, 20mm (40mm)

What attracted me to photographing Marie was the way the light from the bay windows caught her eyes. Unfortunately, my camera blocked a lot of that.

This camera has face and eye detection. I can even select which eye to prefer (I always select closest eye of the closest subject), but it is not always accurate. This photo suffers a little because the camera mistakenly focused on the distal eye—probably because I am near the close-focusing limit of this lens (the sensor isn’t small enough and the lens is a pancake).

It is interesting my appreciation of this image is interrupted because as the photographer, I see my mistakes: the off-focus and camera [gobo][gobo], but my friends don’t.

### Other tips

Even though the image is highly cropped it’s okay. A closely cropped photo rarely suffers and you can crop a person anywhere as long as it isn’t near a joint. As with “focus on the eyes”, these sort of photographing decisions are derived from our evolution.

Just remember, you will have to retouch the portrait a bit. Soften the skin (a little, not too much) and add definition and saturation to the eyes and lips. You should probably remove some of the color from the whites of the eyes, but I didn’t need to in this photo. Note that retouching tools have gotten very good as computers have gotten very powerful. I didn’t even need to leave Aperture (or use the RAW image) to retouch.

[gobo]: “Gobo (lighting)—Wikibedia”

Cat eyes (and flash)

First picture of Pounce

First picture of Pounce” by tychay
( Olympus C-2500L ) ƒ3.1, 1/60sec, iso 100, 18.6mm (56mm), built-in flash

Anyone who has taken a flash photo of their cat is aware of the cloudy yellow/green reflection in their eyes. Such was a topic of discussion on Flickr Technique.

The reason for this is that cat eyes have a reflective coating in the back of their eyes called the tapetum. Nocturnal animals have this so that light passes twice through the transparent rods/cones of their eyes creating a second opportunity to absorb the photos and resulting in better night vision—at the price of some acuity of vision because of the folded optical path. Light comes from two distances and cats are far-sighted anyways.

Pretty neat piece of evolutionary engineering.Continue reading about red eye in photography after the jump.