Editing Out Reflections in Glasses

by | Nov 21, 2020 | Tips & Tricks | 3 comments

I very much enjoy using off-camera flash when doing indoor shots at a wedding. It's just so soft, and it does a really great job of pulling subjects off the background!

200912_James Staddon_ Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 24 mm, 1-160 sec at f - 4.0, ISO 400

However, there can be a problem. Bright directional light creates reflections in glasses.

After shooting Thierry & Hannah's wedding in September, they had some special things they wanted to do with some of the family pictures, so they asked if I could remove the reflections in some of the photos.

These are 3 of the 10 or so that they wanted edited:

All three

Reflections are very difficult to remove, especially when an entire eye is covered! So, knowing that it would be a time-intensive job, I asked a friend of mine named Dan to help me out.

And here’s what Dan said he did!

I had initially attempted to resolve the issue of the green reflection by locally adjusting the color to remove the green. However, I was unable to achieve a satisfactory result so I resorted to cloning and stamping from other parts of the face and the opposite eye. This became a work of art to literally redraw the eye and surrounding skin in the areas where there was a reflection. Using the clone/stamp tool in Photoshop, the picture becomes a palette from which you can extract the colors and textures needed to recreate what was obliterated by the reflection. Some areas showed some faint detail behind the reflection, so I was able to use that as a guide. Other reflections were completely blown out, so it was a matter of using artistic judgement to create a convincing look.

Picture 1

When I worked on this picture, I had already fixed another photo with the same subject, so for the area with the worst reflection, I decided to copy the same eye from another photo and paste it onto a new Photoshop layer in this picture. I reduced the opacity of the new layer in order to “see through” to the original photo underneath and thus be able to properly align the copied eye with the original. I then added a layer mask and masked out all but the part of the eye that had been affected by the reflection.

Picture 2

Of all the photos in this project, this was the one that I worked on first. My attempts at simply removing the greenish color were successful to some extent, but the eye still did not look at all natural. That’s when I switched over to the clone/stamp tool and was able to achieve what I felt was a satisfactory result. It’s amazing how you can look at certain parts of a picture and think that they are the same color, but when you start to clone and stamp you realize that the color you cloned doesn’t match the color around the area where you stamp it. This became quite obvious as I tried to match the exact color of the skin tones around the eye. By zooming way in and working on very small areas at a time, I was able to blend the colors effectively.

Picture 3

Although this photo had several areas that needed attention, they were small and less obvious, making the job easier. Again, it was the clone/stamp tool that gave me the best results.

And on that last picture, you’ll notice that I also brightened up the faces on the back row. They were in shadow from the off-camera flash, which is another thing you have to be aware of when working with directional lighting. This was done in Photoshop too.

PS work

I brightened up the faces by creating a lightening Levels adjustment layer, and then masked in only the parts of the face that I wanted lightened using the Brush tool.

And those minor edits make all the difference in the world!

And that's how detailed photo editing jobs work. Every situation is going to be different, but what I always find myself doing when editing in Photoshop is, zoom way in and just take my time doing one tiny, slow step at a time.

“Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; ‘Consider your ways.’” –Haggai 1:5

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  1. Caitlin

    So fascinating to see the before and after edits! And also to hear about the behind-the-scenes editing process. It looks so much better with the reflections removed. 🙂

  2. Lydia Bennett

    This was amazing to see! I just recently was almost in this same situation, but ended up having a similar photo without the reflection in glasses I was able to deliver to the client. This will be good to review for the future though. It’s so neat to scroll back and forth and see before/after in these example images!!

  3. James Staddon

    Thanks to Robert for the new before/after slider plugin. 🙂 Will surely be using that a lot more!

    In general, yes, I try to shoot the photos without the glare, or choose the pictures without the glare in the first place. But sometimes it’s just impossible. 🙂


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