The Eyes Have It

Shot of the Month – August 2015

American Bison, Yellowstone NP (6330)This month’s throwback pinup beauty is a gorgeous bison babe.  I don’t know about you, but I find myself getting lost in those big brown eyes (Yes, I realize it is a black and white photo — trust me on this one). That luscious nose.  And who wouldn’t want to run their fingers through that luxurious black hair?

No doubt about it, that is a half ton of cuteness right there.  Bob the Bison would surely be humming Bob the Marley’s “Looking in your big brown eyes” as he sauntered by this bovine beauty.

The eyes come to life in this image because I was able to capture the elusive “catchlight.”  Catchlight is simply the reflection of the sun or light source in the subject’s eyes.  Catchlight adds depth and dimension to the eyes and makes the subject come alive.  Wildlife photographers obsess about this little dint of illumination – some feel that the foundation of a great wildlife image is catching a bit of ocular sparkle.

Without the glint the human brain seems to not respond as strongly to an image — we tend to see the photo as “lifeless.”  Sort of like the difference between looking at a photo of a stuffed toy bison and a picture of well, this Yellowstone beauty.  That extra twinkle can make an otherwise “flat” image seem to jump off the page…errr, screen.

The eye glint thing also works for people. So when you are taking a picture of friends and family, try and capture a bit of catchlight to make your evil ____ more loveable/likeable/humanlike. (fill in the blank with the relative or friend of your choice).

The psychological power of catchlight is so strong that sometimes in movies the director will go in the other direction and remove the glint from the eyes of antagonistic characters in post production to make them seem more evil or heartless.

As you can see, beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder…..or is it the beholdee?  Now I’m confused….

Until next month…..michael







Nikon D4s, Nikkor 600mm f/4G ED, 1.4x TC (@850mm), f/5.6, 1/750s, +0.5 EV, ISO 640