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Flash Reflections in Glasses and LR

Hi - Is there any advanced LR technique beyond "spot removal" to get rid of the reflections from camera flash in people's glasses, or can this only be really done in PhotoShop, which I do not have and really am not planning to get?

Thanks - Dave


  • TrevTrev Moderator

    No, unfortunately because you cannot work with layers in LR you are completely stuck with just 'spot removal' which does a relatively poor job other than simple 'dust spots'.

    Hint: When photographing people with glasses, get them to push them up on the bridge of the nose more than normal and slightly angle their head up a tiny bit which will help diminish reflection.

    However, some glasses show up *all* reflections even before you add flash to the scene, so if possible get them to remove them.

    But I found by asking them to push up the glasses a bit and tilt head up very slightly significantly improves your chances of getting shots without flash reflections. Another reason for pushing up the glasses on bridge of nose and tilting up slightly is that many people have a tendency to look down a bit and when glasses are moved down the top of the frame will appear to run right through their eyes so you want their eyes to be completely in view without having top of frame running 'through' them.

  • Thanks, Trev, for the tips. I could ask people to remove their glasses, but that really wouldn't be so good as it would have them in a photo as "not who they are", you know?

    I had an idea about possibly using the "healing brush" (if that's what it's called) maybe by itself or combined with spot removal. Ah, we'll see. All part of the learning curve - LR and posing people.

  • Fixing that is sometimes not possible, even in Photoshop.  It's best to get it right in camera.  Here's a good Tutorial.
  • Thanks, RS. I knew almost immediately where it was going.

    But, the situation was different for me yesterday: I was hired by a company to do a "Meet and Greet" for attendees of a meeting to have their photo taken with the guest speaker. There were about 50 people who lined up to do this in front to the company banner/backdrop. I had never done one of these before, but I had seen it done with one light and reflective umbrella behind the photographer. That's what I practiced at home in preparation.

    The shots look really good, but there were 3-4 or so people with glasses. Sure, in hindsight, I should have said to myself "Be prepared for glasses" and used two lights, possibly, each at an angle to the subject. But then I would have to deal with shadows cast on the backdrop.

    Sure, in the future, if I have to do this again, I'll set my plastic head up but with glasses, and get it right. But for now, I need to deal with this.

    I am not interested in learning Photoshop, but someone told me there is something called "Photoshop Elements". Do you have any experience with this?

    Thanks - Dave
  • Dave,

    I do not have any experience with Elements; I've been using full Photoshop since version 3.0 (now have the CC 2015 version).

    Once you learn what techniques you need to employ on your images, I believe Adobe maintains a comparisson of what features are in Elements vs Photoshop.   But having said that, you'd still need to probably do the same amount of learning.  The interface in Elements will be much stripped down and perhaps easier to find features.  But working with those features to produce your desired results would require learning and possibly much experimentation.

    Is it possible for you to post the most problematic image (even if it's just a crop of the eyeglass area)?  I'll try to think about how I'd approach the issue. Others will most likely have different workflows they could suggest.
  • Thanks, RS. I will go through them tonight when I get home. But I will have to put up a Jpeg version, because the RAW file is too big.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited April 2016


    One thing I need to say if the reflection is in glasses and across the eye it's impossible (like RS says) to fix with any program on *that* particular eye, impossible, you cannot 'fix' almost solid white once it's across the eye itself working with just that eye.

    So what to do! Well in the past if I was unfortunate enough to get that problem, you generally may have several shots or even just the one with only the reflection in one of the glasses/eye, then I've merely copied the good eye, (onto a new layer) moved it over to the other side, rotated/flipped it so orientation is correct then got it sitting in perfect alignment (even stretching/shrinking it if need be to match that eye's perspective) then dropped a black mask on it to hide and gently brushed back the eye just inside the frame eliminating the reflection.

    Unless you have hours to spend and know how to 'pixel clone' the bad eye you are really up against it, so that method is easily done.

    Generally you take more than one shot and sometimes will get lucky where the reflection is missing in one of the photos, but that particular photo is not the one you really want to use so copying the good eye (even the whole glasses area if both eyes are clear) and dropping that onto the other photo/s and getting it to sit spot on and brushed in is relatively easy.

    Photoshop Elements is nowhere as good as Photoshop, it's mainly used for quick editing and the features are pared right back.

    If you were to get Photoshop, you will have a massive learning curve and unless you even know what questions to ask, let alone understand, it is a daunting yet very powerful program.

    I (like RS with his Version 3) have been using Photoshop for around 22+ years now, (I thought I started with V3, but on checking I started early 1994 and V3 come out in September 1994) long before 'digital' became the buzz word and every single day I learn something new.

    Once you start it though and get to understand how to use it properly, you will get so much more out of your image, but getting to that point is a long road, make no mistake about that, anyone who tells you 'oh, you just wang around a few sliders, do S curves, etc. etc.' does not know Photoshop properly.

    Like driving a car, just because you may have driven one for 40 years or so, does not make you an F1 driver.

    The reason I point this out Dave is that I don't want you to have any illusions about it, you do need to know what to do the right way and believe me there are many ways to get a result, but is it the best one.

    Sorry, I digressed there mate, but you need to know that merely having Photoshop won't magically cure all ails/ills in editing, it takes a lifetime of learning, but having said that getting some basics right will go a good way to having a head start on it.


  • Hi, Trev -

    I don't want to learn Photoshop. I am more interested in getting more experience in taking the photo as correctly as possible. That means coming up with different ways of handling different situations. The more I gain experience, the better I am prepared to set things up lighting wise, positioning the head of person with glasses, etc.

    I always, always, take at least two photos of the same situation. Guards against blinking, poor expression, etc. For this job, I told the guest speaker I would take 4 shots total - two "full body", and two "chest up", zooming in a bit. This way people had a choice of which photo/pose they liked. I found two photos out of about 130 that were "Blinkers".

    You saw an earlier post as I was preparing for this job. I had never done anything like this before, so I practiced. Got to the place and knew almost exactly what to do. Then the people in glasses got in line.

    Out of 8 people, only two it turns out were an issue. Maybe it was luck, or maybe it was the type of lens they had. One of them I was able to more than acceptably hide the flash spots. One person is really giving me a problem, but one of the shots is acceptable.

    My next thing is to look at the photos where the glasses were NOT a problem, and see how the heads were positioned, etc. Then look at the ones that gave problems, and try to figure out if head positioning would have helped. In one case, I think it would have.

    Finally, set some stuff up, find some really nasty glasses to put on a willing family member or the plastic head, and figure out what lighting - one or two lights, positioning, etc.- would go a long way to solving the problem. Then, have a strategy in my head (or written down) to address this.

    I just wanna learn, that's all .... and get good at it.

    Thanks - Dave
  • TrevTrev Moderator

    That would be a good idea re testing.

    Have fun and let us know what you discovered.
  • OK, Trev, will do, and we'll see I guess.

    I thought a bit more about why I don't want to learn Photoshop: Even though I'm slowly approaching my "goal" of 2-3 hires per month (I work full time), I haven't learned how to take photos yet. Really, I haven't. I'm getting a little better at reacting to curve balls, unexpected situations, which lens would be better, DOF vs. more light vs. stuff in focus, etc. But, as this last job showed me, even though I thought I was prepared - which mostly I was, judging from 95% of the shots - I was not prepared for glasses.

  • For me, Photoshop is another tool that I can employ.  And, I always like using the right tool for the job.  Thus, I always ask myself what would be cheaper; do the work when shooting the images, or do the work in post?

    It's also not an all-or-nothing.  Sometimes you strike a good balance of doing the most you can in-camera, but then rely upon Photoshop to address things that would be too costly in camera.

    Back to the glasses, I agree with what Trev wrote above as to an approach.  One of the how-to videos I found did employ the clone stamp tool to copy (and horizontally flip) from a good eye.  However, this really only works if reflections are just in one of the lens and not both.  And, there would need to be a certain amount of symmetry in the image as well.
  • Hi, RS -

    I understand about Photoshop being another tool, and I get what you are saying about "all-or-nothing". In use Lightroom right now, and have really only been using it for 6-7 months, so I'm still finding out more and more about it.

    Maybe when the day comes where I have more time, I might delve into Photoshop, but I just can't right now.

    I think I got lucky with 6 out of the 8 people with glasses where there were no reflections. I'm curious to find out if it was the type lens, or just lucky head positions.

  • Dave,

    Have you checked out that link to the video I posted earlier?  It does show two types of glasses (flat vs. curved) and visually shows the issues with both.  The principle "angle of reflectance equals angle of incidence" applies to virtually all reflective surfaces, so good info to have in general.
  • Hi, RS - yes, I watched that, and it's good info. Even better when you have the time with a single subject to figure it out and get the best lighting and position.

    But, in the case of the other day, there certainly wasn't time while in the thick of it. As I wrote above, my plan was to take 4 shots of each person. Even though it was less than a minute to do each person, about 1/2-way through, the guest speaker was hinting at 'let's speed this up". Even though I had gobs of time to set things up, there wasn't any time to adjust things when glasses showed up. So, in that situation, I would need a quick-react plan and a back-up plan. Maybe it's as simple as telling the subject "If you are comfortable taking your glasses off ..." or, "You will have to allow me an extra minute to make sure of reflections if they are left on". Maybe it's :"Bring two lights and set them up in such a way that nothing will reflect". That's where the practicing at home comes is.

    Most of the work I get are fast-moving with a lot of candid shots and informal small-group shots. I don't get a lot of the type I had Wednesday.

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