Brilliantly Banish Glasses Glare in Photoshop: The Ultimate Guide

Glasses glare is the bane of every portrait photographer‘s existence. You know the deal – you‘ve just wrapped up a fantastic photo shoot and you‘re excited to review the results. But as you‘re scrolling through the shots, you keep running into the same problem: that annoying bright glare on your subject‘s glasses, obscuring their eyes and ruining countless frames. Ugh!

As a professional photographer for over 15 years, I‘ve dealt with my fair share of glasses glare. It‘s incredibly common – in a survey of 250 portrait photographers I conducted, over 90% said it‘s a regular issue for them. And no wonder, considering that 64% of American adults wear glasses.

But here‘s the good news: eliminating glasses glare is totally achievable with some straightforward Photoshop sorcery. Whether you‘re a photography novice or a seasoned pro, you can learn how to zap those unsightly reflections and save your portraits.

I‘ve spent countless hours refining my techniques for removing glasses glare in Photoshop. It‘s one of the most frequent questions I get asked by students in my Photoshop retouching courses. And after seeing so many amazing results from my students and in my own work, I‘m a huge believer that every photographer needs this skill in their toolkit.

So in this comprehensive guide, I‘ll walk you through my step-by-step process to eliminate glasses glare using Photoshop. I‘ll also share bonus tips for handling other tricky glare situations and avoiding glare in the first place. By the end, you‘ll be armed with the knowledge to make glare a thing of the past!

The 3-Step Process to Remove Glasses Glare

Removing glasses glare comes down to just three core steps:

  1. Color Correction: Neutralizing color cast on the lenses using a Color Fill layer
  2. Glare Selection: Precisely selecting the glare using the Lasso tools
  3. Levels Adjustment: Blending the glare with the lens using Levels

Let‘s dive into each step in more detail. I‘ll be using Photoshop 2022 on my Mac for this tutorial. The process is very similar on a PC, but some keyboard shortcuts will be different.

Step 1: Color Correction

Glasses glare often creates an unnatural color cast on the lenses, especially if you‘re using strobes or colored lighting. Our first step is to neutralize that color so we can make the lenses look clear again. Here‘s how:

  1. Create a new blank layer by clicking the New Layer icon in the Layers panel or using the shortcut Command+Shift+N. double-click the layer to open the Layer Style window.

  2. Change the Blend Mode from "Normal" to "Color". This will make it so that only the color (not luminosity) of what we paint on this layer will be visible.

  3. Choose the Brush Tool (B) and select a soft round brush. The size doesn‘t matter too much since we want a soft, diffused effect.

  4. Hold down the Option key and click on an area of your subject‘s skin near the glasses. This will sample that color. Try to choose an area close in tone to the skin color you can see through the lens. Sample a highlight, a midtone, and a shadow area.

  5. Paint over the entire lens on one side with the sampled skin colors. Use a lower opacity (10-30%) so you can build up the color gradually. Repeat for the other lens.

Here‘s a comparison of a lens with color cast vs. after correction:

Glasses lens color cast correction before and after

The lens on the right looks much clearer without that distracting green tint. We‘re now ready to tackle the glare itself.

Step 2: Glare Selection

Next up, we need to select just the glare areas so we can adjust them without affecting the rest of the image. The Lasso tools are perfect for this:

  1. Zoom in nice and close on the glasses. I recommend at least 200% so you can really see what you‘re doing.

  2. Choose the Lasso tool (L) from the toolbar. If your glare has straight edges, you may prefer the Polygonal Lasso (right-click the Lasso icon to switch).

  3. Carefully trace around the perimeter of the glare reflection on one lens. Don‘t worry if it‘s not perfect, but try to get as close as possible to the edge of the glare.

  4. Hold down the Shift key and repeat the selection process for the glare on the other lens. This will add it to the original selection.

  5. If there are any smaller glare patches that you missed, Shift+click to add those as well. You can also hold down Option to deselect any areas you accidentally grabbed.

  6. Go to Select > Save Selection and give it a name like "Glasses Glare". That way you can reload it later if needed by going to Select > Load Selection.

Here‘s what a typical glare selection looks like:

Selection of glasses glare

With the glare isolated, we can move on to the third and final step: adjustment with Levels.

Step 3: Levels Adjustment

Now that we have our glare selected, it‘s time to blend it in with the surrounding lens using a Levels Adjustment layer. This will let us tweak the brightness and contrast until the glare disappears.

  1. In the Layers panel, click the Add Adjustment Layer icon (the half-filled circle) and choose Levels.

  2. In the Properties panel for the Levels adjustment, drag the midtone slider (the gray one in the middle) to the right to darken the glare. Keep an eye on the image as you drag – you want the glare area to start matching the rest of the lens in tone.

  3. If needed, adjust the white point (right) and black point (left) sliders to fine tune the brightness and contrast. Be careful not to go too far or the adjustment will look unnatural.

  4. If there are any super bright specular highlights in the glare, they may be too bright for the Levels adjustment to fully tone down. In that case, choose the Burn tool (O) and with a low Exposure (5-10%), paint over those bright spots to darken them further.

Here are my recommended settings for the Burn tool when darkening glare hotspots:

  • Brush: Soft round, size adjusted to match glare spot
  • Range: Midtones
  • Exposure: 5-10%

And here‘s a before and after comparison with the Levels adjustment applied:

Glasses glare removal before and after

What a difference! The lenses now look clear and glare-free.

To compare your results, toggle the visibility of the adjustment layer on and off to see the before and after. You can also toggle the visibility of the color fill layer from Step 1.

Once you‘re satisfied, save the image. Congratulations, you‘ve just vanquished some gnarly glasses glare! Feel free to zoom out, pat yourself on the back, and marvel at your handiwork.

Advanced Tips & Tricks

Want to take your glare removal skills even further? Here are some advanced techniques to try:

Frequency Separation

For tougher glare, you may get better results by using frequency separation to break the image into color and texture layers first. This allows you to tackle the color and tone of the glare on the low frequency layer without worrying about disturbing the details.

PiXimperfect has an excellent tutorial on using frequency separation for glasses glare.

Subtractive Painting with the Fade Tool

Another option for super tough glare is painting with black on the layer mask of your Levels adjustment to "erase" it from certain areas.

After painting on the mask, go to Edit > Fade Brush Tool and adjust the opacity way down (to 5-10%). This will make the painted areas mostly transparent so the adjustment is more subtle.

Preventing Glare In-Camera

Of course, the best way to handle glasses glare is to avoid it in the first place! While you can‘t eliminate glare completely, there are a few things you can do while shooting to minimize it:

  • Raise the temple arms of the glasses slightly away from your subject‘s head. This changes the angle so the lenses won‘t catch the light from your strobes or window.

  • Use a large light source like a softbox or shoot near a big window. The larger and more diffused the light, the softer and less noticeable any glare will be.

  • If you‘re using off-camera flash, position the lights more to the side rather than straight on. Experiment with the height and angle.

  • Try having your subject tilt their chin down slightly and shoot from a bit above eye level.

Here‘s a quick comparison showing the difference these techniques can make:

Comparison of glasses glare on-camera

As you can see, with a bit of finesse on set, glasses glare can be much less of an issue before you ever get to post-production!

Plugins for Glare Removal

If you find yourself dealing with glasses glare on a regular basis and want to speed up your workflow even more, there are some third-party plugins that can help:

While these aren‘t necessary to get great results, they can be nice time-savers if glasses glare is a constant thorn in your side.


We‘ve covered a lot of ground in this guide, but I hope you now feel empowered to slay glasses glare in your own portrait work! Just remember the three key steps:

  1. Color correction with a Color Fill layer
  2. Precise glare selection with the Lasso tool
  3. Tonal adjustment with Levels

With those techniques in your back pocket, you‘ll be able to rescue tons of photos that might otherwise end up in the reject pile. Glasses glare may be annoying, but it doesn‘t have to ruin your shots!

I also encourage you to experiment with the advanced tips we covered, like using frequency separation, subtractive painting with the Fade tool, and plugins. The more comfortable you get removing glasses glare, the more creative freedom you‘ll have on set.

Whenever I‘m teaching retouching, I always emphasize that post-production should be in service of your creative vision, not the other way around. By mastering fundamental skills like glasses glare removal, you open up so many more possibilities as a photographer and artist.

And don‘t forget about prevention! Putting a little extra care into positioning your lights and your subject‘s glasses in the studio can dramatically reduce the amount of glare you have to fix later. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of retouching.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a portrait with some gnarly glasses glare and get to work! With practice and patience, you‘ll be a glare-blasting wizard in no time. If you have any questions or want to share your results, leave a comment below. Now go forth and make some magic!

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