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matilda Matilda Huggington-beare
Posts: 5,551

Hi! I'm having problems photographing the eyes of my critters. Does any one have tips to try that work and dont involve professional photography with  heaps of expensive equipment?

The 'black' on the rabbot isnt actually black it is just a little grey shading.

wendy bear_thumb

All Bear All Bear by Paula
Posts: 5,162

Bistoeye.jpgI just point my little digicam up close and personal, aim and fire!

chris009av Real Deal Bears
Posts: 2,234

Wendy, I am wondering if you are using a light tent?
I know I do, and have come to the conclusion that it might be that mine is way too big for my little bears.  bear_ermm

matilda Matilda Huggington-beare
Posts: 5,551

No, no Light tent Christine. Daylight at midday.  Maybe I will have to rethink the actual eyes them selves.
Your eyes Paula have such lovely sparky to capture. Which you do expertly.
Wendy bear_thumb

kbonsall Kim-Bee Bears
Posts: 5,645

Do you use the micro/macro setting on your camera? The one that you can pick up tiny details?

audemesange Aude-Mesange Creations
Posts: 57

I use spots so that light reflects into the eyes and show the color good. Of course it's not perfect because you can actually see the spot reflected on the eye. That is the best result I obtained yet though. You can always remove the spot or change it in photoshop bear_whistle gallery_web2.jpg

Laura Lynn Teddy Bear Academy
Nicholasville, KY
Posts: 3,651

Laura Lynn Banner Sponsor

LOTS of light!!!!

I use 3-4 200 watt incandescent bulbs in painter light fixtures (leaving them on for only very short periods of time!) 

Since my camera is also digital... I set my white balance before taking the photos.  Every camera is different in how you set the white balance... but it should be in your manual bear_original

Penny's Penchants Penny's Penchants
Naicam, Saskatchewan
Posts: 76

Petunia-Eyes.jpgHi Wendy!

I ALWAYS photograph close-ups of the eyes (or anything) with the macro and more often, super macro mode on my digital.

As well - good lighting is a must - I usually tilt the critters head up toward the light until I can see them shine!

I also use - when handpainted the back of clear eyes - a shimmery/metallic paint - this seems to give that "sparkle"!

Hope this helps!


sarahjane Brisbane
Posts: 2,951

Hi Wendy

I think that all the tips given are great...but your main problem may be the timing....daylight at midday throws a lot of shadow down on to your critters eyes and makes it hard to get a good shot. The best times for photos are early morning (when I take mine) or late afternoon, that way the light is softer and you don't get so many shadows, also take your shots out of the direct sunlight. If you have to take you photos at other times I find a white sheet stretched over the clothesline makes a good light tent that helps block those annoying shadows. Hope this helps  bear_original

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

Hi Wendy,

You're not getting shadowing, so you're doing OK in the light blocking/diffusing dept. And midday is the best time for natural daylight, replicating the 5000 K(elvin) that you want for balanced natural lighting.
This is one of the sites that addresses that: … 20eBay.htm

But there doesn't appear to have any lighting that reflects in the eyes themselves, with the exception of the bit of sparkle in lower part of the the first fellow's left eye. You said 'midday' but didn't say if these were taken indoors or outdoors. That makes a huge difference. I would suspect indoors and the light is coming from a window or another light source low down in relation to the postition of the eye to the light.

Mindy & Pammi Shirk (sp?) gave a good natural light photography lesson last year or so in TB&F, about shooting indoors near a window, and using a refelctor (aliminum sheet foil, white cardstock or a mirror as Paula suggests) facing the window but on the far side of the bear, to redirect some of that window's light back onto the darker side of the bear that's away from the window.

What I note is the shallow depth-of-field, or how much of your design (from front-to-back) is in focus. Looking at the other examples posted, you'll note that the front of the bears are as crisply focused as the back. That's the D-O-F range. I don't know if you're using a standard 35 mm camera or a digi so it's difficult to tell you what to do. But I do know that the center area of the first bear is in sharpest focus - his shoulder, upper arm amd eye line, and all of those must be the same distance away from the lens.  If you've got a choice it's best to go with the eyes in focus and let the rest in front of and behind blur a bit.

As Laura said - loads of light. Increase the amount of light: at least 2 photo lights and 3 or 4 is better. They will all aim at different parts of the bear: from the front slightly off to the side near the camera position (that puts the highlight in each eye right near the center), one slightly above the top of the bear from the side, one slightly above the top of the bear from the back (nice haloing effect on the fur's outer profile) and toward the background, also highlights the outer profile of the bear's fur. I use 4 aimed at these general positions but adjusted a bit for each.

Most of your bears/critters also have eyes looking upwards. It's the angle at which they're set: many ppl develop a 'Look', positioning their eyes looking straight forwards from the front of the forehead above the cheek area, some position theirs deeply into the nose bridge looking sort of sidewards (and those don't photograph as well from the full-face-on position as well as the 3/4 profile or side view), some eyes are placed on top of the nose bridge, looking forward or upward.
Given that lots of yours are either upward-looking or have muzzles that extend up over the eyes' lower edges, your camera might be placed a little higher too, looking down into their eyes. Then, if there's any light to reflect, the camera will pickup those glints.

Hope those are some points-to-ponder....

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

Forgot to add that the tabletop lights shown on this site are what I use, well 2 of my 4 lights. Daphne pointed them out ond I bought a set - already had lots of light tents/boxes.
They were $100 US: pricey but the best quality I've had in some 25 years of macro photography.
Even DH - an electrician, pronounced them the best quality. I wonder of Daphne ever got some....

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

Sorry Sarah-Jane! My first 2 sentences are written as directly opposite of your good suggestions! In seeing them posted right after yours it made it look like I was telling W the exact oppsirte of your suggestions! I would have PMd you but thought this 'apology' should be made publicly!
What you're doing is working wonderfully for your bears & camera set-up. I sure hope I didn't imply that your advice should be disegarded - in black & white that's what it looks like to me....
Wendy should be trying all of these suggestions, as everyone's unique situation requires different elements to make it all work, which aren't known until all of the combinations are tried out.
hggzzz - B

matilda Matilda Huggington-beare
Posts: 5,551

You know Bobbie this is all your fault that I found myself dissatisfied. I read your musings on light reflections in bear eyes. Thoroughly enjoyed it by the way.  bear_thumb  and it brought  me to look at my photography differently. I cant move on in this until I'm ready.( I mean each different aspect of photography). I am now ready for a lesson in eyes. I think it is so unfair of me to allow my wee Puddles to  be seen with dead eyes when in reality they are full of sparkle and life.
  I take my photos at midday with the dining room window thrown wide (2x2mtr) and the kitchen window as well. Then I pop my wee critters on a plant stand with blue card . Sometimes I have to step on the step ladder to get a good shot of there faces.   I have tried lighting but have found that is washes out the colours on my critters as well as the back ground.  I have a Sony cybershot 6.0 I keep it on a macro setting at all times and I stopped using the magnifying thingy quite some time ago.  If I want any magnification I do it in edit. It works much better there.
I rarely need it anymore anyway.  I stand pretty close to my subjects . 1 - 2 feet?
I have noticed with the examples shown in this topic that the eyes look designed to be good photographic subjects.  I have been putting sparkle behind all my eyes just so they could reflect something at least.
But if you look at  Lamington his lovely green glass eyes look like they are open pits into the bowels of hell.  Scarey!! and the rabbits pink eyes cannot be seen at all. I chose midday because the sun has moved over to the front of the house and not streaming through the back. We get lots of sun here. It can be a real bugger when trying to take photos. Thats why I dont take them outside. The stand is about 21/2 metres opposite the window.
Should I move it closer?  After trial and error the dining room is the only room with suitable light.  I have thought of using one of those tiny LED lights and hold it right above the eye as I shoot.
I read the article you have refered to. in TB&F. That and other articles with similar info got me into the postion I am in now. Which is a good position, I just need to be able to proceed from here.
Where I was last year and where I am today in my photography is a vast improvement.  I just wish to carry on improving. 
   SUM UP:   I shall move closer to the window and focus closer on the face. Which is what I thought I was doing? But obviously not. I shall remember that in all cases keep the face in sharp focus.
I really under stood the bit about the mirrors. I liked that. So I shall work on that.
  Thankyou everyone for your advice. It has been much appreciated.  Penny your wee bear is adorable!!! I'm a sucker for a mini, especially when they have wings bear_wub
Thankyou Bobbie! sound advice again!! bear_thumb
Wendy :doh:

sarahjane Brisbane
Posts: 2,951

Sorry Sarah-Jane! My first 2 sentences are written as directly opposite of your good suggestions!

Only just noticed this Bobbie  :redface: ...and it's no problem, as you said different things work for different camera's and set ups!!!...I find that over here in Australia the sun at midday is a bit too harsh for my taste but that varies worldwide of course!!!  bear_original

Wendi I would try and get a bit closer to your wee puddles....I am only about 12 inches away (or closer) when I take my photos.....and I use the macro setting on my's only a mid range Canon Powershot and seems to do a good job  bear_original

matilda Matilda Huggington-beare
Posts: 5,551

Thankyou for posting Ellen and Sarahjane. It has reminded me to reread all the info again. bear_thumb
And again, Thankyou Bobbie :dance:

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