I have heard many people argue about what makes a great portrait. I have always been in the camp, that the eyes are the most important part of a successful portrait. There is an old saying often attributed to Shakespeare “Eyes are the windows to the soul” I believe that saying holds true in portrait photography. Here is a quick method to “pop” the contrast in the eyes.
I am starting this Tutorial after finishing all the standard portrait editing ( that is a topic for another day). Create a duplicated layer (cmd+j), so you are working in a non-destructive manner.
Here is where we start. Looks pretty good. There is a little fill light from the flowers, which I really like, nice soft light. The first step is choose the dodge tool (mdtones set to 41%) and paint the colored part of the eye, paying close attention not to hit the whites of the eyes. This will bring the mid-tone values up a bit (brighter)
Then Grab the burn tool (shadows set to 10%) and paint over the same areas, it may take 2 passes with the brush (salt and pepper to taste, dont over do it tho….)
Next we are going to brighten up the whites of the eyes with the dodge tool, I used the same settings as before. Notice that I just painted the area just beside the pupils, I do not want glowing alien eyes, just a little more contrast.
It is looking pretty good, but when i zoom back, it looks a little strong, so, since I am working on a duplicate layer, I can just turn the opacity down a bit, and bring the tones to a slightly more natural look, but still a bit more contrast. Here you can see, that I changed the opacity of the edit layer to 61%: