Chicago Lighting Design

How to Fix Red Eye in Your Photos?


Red-eye. The family photographer's worst enemy. How many of your holiday photographs have been ruined by the red-eyed monster?

Red eye is a common problem for almost any photographer who uses a flash. Thankfully this red eye problem is easy to predict and can be prevented with just a little bit of preparation.

The Causes of Red Eye

Essentially red eye is caused by the light reflecting off the inside of the person's pupil and back to the camera. To better understand how this works, you have to first understand how the pupil of a person's eye works. The pupil is the part of the eye that expands and contracts to let in different amounts of light to enter the eye. This helps your eyes to adjust to bright days or low light situations such as taking a walk by moonlight. When a flash photo is taken in a low-light situation, the pupil cannot close quickly enough to block the light, so the flash jumps all the way to the back of the eye and fires back at the camera. This is also why you see spots when someone flashes a camera at you.

How to Avoid Red-Eye?

The easiest way to avoid red eye in the first place is to avoid situations where you have to use a flash in low light. However if you can't avoid it, you can use photo editing software to remove the red eye- it just takes time to remove it especially if you have a lot of pictures to do. So, if you want to save yourself some time by using photo editing software, here are some things you can do in order to avoid the dreaded red eye.

First, use an external flash unit that isn't situated directly on the front of your camera. Simply changing the angle of the flash will modify the angle of the reflection and often eliminates the red eye or significantly reduces it. You can accomplish this by holding an external flash off to the side, or by using a standalone unit hooked to your camera.

Second, turn the lights on! If your subjects are in a well lit area, their pupils will decrease in size to adjust for the light. This will dramatically reduce the chances of red-eye. A pleasant side effect of turning the lights on is that you may not even need a flash, which will completely eliminate the possibility of ending up with a stack of red-eyed photographs.

So, whenever you can always try to avoid using your flash. Natural light is more flattering for your subjects in most cases, and not every photograph needs a flash. Learn to work with the light you have and you'll not only lose most of the red-eye you encounter, you'll make all of your photographs stronger. Flash is a tool to be used when you need it, but is by no means a requirement in good photographs.

Finally, if you absolutely must use the flash, try picking up a digital camera with "red-eye reduction." These cameras are set up so that when you hit the shutter button, the flash goes off multiple times before the camera shoots. These preliminary flashes allow the pupils of your subjects to close and will help prevent or minimize red-eye in your photographs. This red eye reduction feature can be very effective but remember that it's never foolproof.

Often times, red eye is viewed as a necessary evil of flash photography, however many people don't realize it can be avoided in almost every lighting situation. With just a little preparation and an understanding of the causes of red eye, you can easily avoid this "red eyed monster" and end up with great looking pictures. Just stop and think before you shoot and you'll forever get rid red-eye out of your pictures.

 


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