I've recently seen several close up amazing shots of peoples eyes. I really want to be able to take a similar shot and am not sure what approach is best.

I've got a rock solid Manfrotto tripod and a Canon Kiss X4 (a.k.a the T2i) with the Canon 100mm f2.8 macro and a 430ex II flash. I shoot in raw and use LightRoom 3.4, though am thinking about upgrading to 4.2 in the near future.

Other than just pointing the camera at an eye and asking the person to sit still is there a best approach/method for this type of shot. Lighting, camera settings, post processing or other?

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ We usually don't condone violence here \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 15:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ This question is asked in a way that's specific to one particular photographer, but the answers should help: How did Suren Manvelyan create the macro pictures of eyes? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 17:16

1 Answer 1


Contrary to what you might think make sure to use a larger depth of field. So shoot at 5.6 or 4.5 and not at 2.8. Most lenses are not tack sharp at their largest aperture.

The cool factor with these types of shots comes form a razor sharp image so use a fast shutter speed as well to minimize motion (ever tried to hold your eye open without using your hands?).

If possible, use a cable or electronic shutter release mechanism to minimize vibrations. Also, if you have the ability to lock your mirror in position then do so.

You will want to manually focus the shot as well. Autofocus can move at the last minute and may or may not be sharp.

And resign yourself to the idea that you will be taking plenty of shots in an effort to get "the one"

Once you have the image you think you can work with bring it into LR. I love 4.2 so you may want to upgrade as I think it really is worth it. The controls changes from 3 to 4 and they give you a bit more finesse. Process the image paying special attention to the sharp settings (duh). That is pretty much it. You may have to tweak it a bit.

If you get a good capture and you want to give me a try with the raw file just send it over.

  • \$\begingroup\$ f4-5.6 is a bit of an extreme stop down for a fairly decent lens like the 2.8 mentioned in the question, which by all accounts is sharp wide open and very sharp stopped down a little. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 16:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ "...use a fast shutter speed ..." No. No. No. Use a slow shutter speed in a dark room with a fast flash. It's the only way you will get enough light on the subject without causing the pupil to contract before the shutter opens. A medium to low powered flash pulse can often be much shorter than most camera's maximum shutter speed (1/4000-1/8000), not to mention faster that most camera's flash sync speed (1/160-1/250). \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 7:18

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