Saturday, July 1, 2006

Correcting eyeglass glare


By Jane Conner-ziser

Whether you're shooting a Fortune 500 CEO for the cover of Forbes magazine or yearbook pictures for the graduating class, eyeglass glare is one of the more common problems plaguing portrait photography. In most cases, the crisp detail of the eye gets washed out by the glare generated by the strongest light source. Often image degradation from glare is different for each eye, posing additional challenge during the correction process.

If you have tried working with Photoshop's Clone tool, you know how quickly your project can turn into a complete mess. In Adobe Photoshop, the Clone tool is messy because it mixes pixels as it copies, causing blurring. Fortunately, there is a technique to avoid this blurring effect.

What you'll need to do is eliminate the glare by copying and manipulating the good sections found in either eye. The challenging part comes in when you flip, rotate, stretch and blend the copied information.

What follows is an example of a simple technique that can be applied to your most demanding of eyeglass glare situations.

First, find pieces of one eye to select and copy to a new layer for opposite eye, as shown in Figure A.


Select a portion of an eye that's of good quality. (click for larger image)

Choose the Transform->Flip Horizontal command in the Edit menu.

Next, move the new layer patch to the right eye. Select Transform->Rotate from the Edit menu. Using the rotation handles, turn the selection until it lines up and stretch or contract to fit by dragging the center nodes of the transform box, as shown in Figure B.


The image from the good eye has been moved and rotated to fix some glare. (click for larger image)

Now, choose the Burn or Dodge tool and correct the tones to match the surrounding areas, as shown in Figure C. Use a setting of 5 to 10% and layer in slowly.


Use Dodge or Burn to clean up the image, but do it with a low-intensity setting. (click for larger image)

The frame on the original image will be used so toning of this area is not a concern. Add a mask to the copied layer patch that has been toned to match the new placement. This should be black or a "hide-all" mask. Now use a white brush on the mask to allow some of the image to show through, and blend in the area of the patch up to the frame while being careful to blend up to the frame nicely with a small brush.

As you can see in Figure D, the finished right eye shows the glare has been fixed. Some detail repairing of eyelashes could help with detail.


Now, that's much better! (click for larger image)

You can use this same process again to repair the left eyeglass with elements of the now-repaired eye.

Remember to use the copy patches to keep the original skin textures and then use burn and dodge to match the tones. Notice the Range setting in this tool and pick "shadow, midtone or highlight" for maximum control.

Jane Conner-ziser is considered one of the best retouching experts in the field, her clients include Canon, Art Leather Manufacturing Co, Marathon Press, Kodak, many of the nations largest professional color labs, and numerous studios of fine portrait and commercial photography. She is a featured trainer for Software Cinema who is a strategic partner of Adobe Systems focused on interactive learning for the digital imaging industry. For more information visit