Fstoppers Lighting Diagrams- Customize Your Catch Light

Fstoppers Lighting Diagrams- Customize Your Catch Light

A couple weeks ago I posted a lighting diagram showing how you can emulate Martin Schoeller's lighting by using gaffers tape and foam core. One reader commented that the catch-light makes the subject's eyes look like a cat. This got me thinking about what would happen if I were to change the pattern of the tape into various shapes. Here's what I discovered.

In my previous setup, I used black tape to narrow the amount of bounce light coming from the white board. I decided that since I was now wanted to easily create shapes with the white bounce areas, it would be easier to use white tape on black foam board.

For my first experiment, I tried a starburst pattern. This allowed for an even light spread on the subject and a subtle catchlight.

nick fancher columbus ohio photographer

nick fancher columbus ohio photographer

Next, I tried seeing what a triangle pattern would do. While the light spread on the subject isn't as good as it was with the radial starburst, I like the catch-light much more.

nick fancher columbus ohio photographer

nick fancher columbus ohio photographer

Finally, I tried making two half circles, with a horizontal gap in the middle. This had a cool effect, and is a bit more subtle effect than the triangle.

nick fancher columbus ohio photographer

nick fancher columbus ohio photographer

The fun thing about a set-up like this is that there are endless possibilities of shapes you can make with the tape. I want to see how legible it would be if I wrote out words. Have fun with this and post your results in the comments!

Lessons like this one as well as 25 other lighting diagrams are available in my new e-book, RGLR, The Run & Gun Lighting Resource for $10.

nick fancher lighting diagram strobist

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The quality and content is great, and it is very quick and
easy to follow along. I really look forward to seeing more. Thank you so much!

Noam Galai's picture


Tam Nguyen's picture

 I like the triangle catch light the best. Very unique.

Tam Nguyen's picture

I also wonder if the catch light would be more visible if your foam pattern was bigger

Funny you talk about that since it's a project I started about a year ago, although I used a different method.


Mike Van Tassell's picture

 I really like your method

Thank you :) 

i think it looks very cool, but i whas thinkin, how do you set up?? is it the same way?

thank you ! in fact, I built a box with no front and back panel ( see the picture ). after, I cut through a cardboard the symbol that I wanted and slide it in the box to make the frontpanel and flash it from the back with a speedlight ;)

( check out the last picture of my serie to see the box and the symbol ;) )

Andrew Griswold's picture

Just another example of always progressing the creativity! Really well done Nick and I may be trying this out for some portraits coming up this spring! Thanks!!

The triangles make me think of an alien abduction. Great post. Clearly I've underestimated the power of tape!

Absolutely loved the Triangle, can see myself using that in the future for a sci-fi shoot.

I've been using a light setup a lot lately that gives triangular catchlights. I don't use it primarily for the catch lights but it is a somewhat interesting side effect. 

 so much nicer

Thanks! Just arrange three softboxes so they are in a triangle, bring them in very close, and shoot through the hole in the center.

I did this in 2011 for the Fstoppers BTS contest (shows setup and pics around 2:00).

It was fun and led to me making a book of different catch light patterns with several people.

I like the idea behind this..I think. Perhaps it would be more flattering if the catchlights weren't in the center of the eye. Did you try to move the setup to different spots to try getting them a little higher/over to the side?

The idea is great. But the catch light looks awfull. Looks photoshopped and unnatural even though it's not.


Rod Arroyo's picture

Great concepts.  Thanks for sharring

Finally got around to trying this. Thanks Fstoppers! http://www.flickr.com/photos/43555975@N04/

Do you think you could use white duck tape or masking tape instead?

I'm having such a hard time trying to re create this, any tips?