Have you ever taken a great picture, only to have it ruined by “red eye”? This red glow of the eyes causes sweet and innocent people (especially children) to look like vampires or possessed angry robots. So, what causes red glowing eyes in photographs? Well, to put it simply, we have built-in reflectors in our eyes.
When the camera’s flash goes off, our pupils are dilated due to the low-light condition of the environment. This dilation allows too much light (from the camera’s flash) into the eyes. The pupils can’t constrict fast enough, so the blast of light from the camera’s flash hits a larger surface area of the retina – causing the red-orange color. This eerie glow of the retina is then lit up and highly visible through the enlarged, dilated pupil. This is what the camera captures in that split second of saying, “cheese!”
How Do I Get Rid of Red Eye?
So, you may ask, “how do I get rid of red eye”? There are a few ways you can do this, but the best way is to not take pictures in low light, while using your on-camera flash (that’s absurb!). However, this is not always an option. Here are a few things you can do to reduce, or get rid of, red eye in pictures.
1. Most cameras nowadays have a red eye reduction setting. This causes your camera to fire 2 separate flashes. It works by constricting the pupil with the first flash and then taking the picture during the second flash. There’s not enough time between flashes for the pupil to re-dilate, so a good amount of the retina’s red glow stays hidden behind the constricted pupil. It’s not always perfect, but it can significantly reduce the red eye effect.
2. Try flash modifiers to soften the harshness of your flash. These nifty tools turn your harsh on-camera flash into a flattering light source. Some recommended flash diffusers are the Gary Fong LightSphere or the Gary Fong Puffer Pop Up Flash Diffuser for Canon/Nikon.
3. If you are using a mounted or external flash, try bouncing the light, so it is not going directly into your subjects eyes. You can get a great deal on a YN-560 Speedlight Flash for Canon and Nikon for less than $70 on Amazon. And, if you want to get that flash off of your camera, then try the inexpensive Wireless Triggers from CowboyStudio.
4. If all else fails, you can always use photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop Elements - both of which you can purchase for $100 or less. Most of these types of programs have built-in red eye removal tools to bring beauty back to glowing red eyes with a few simple clicks.
5. Try not to use your flash. If you are indoors, try turning on some extra lights to brighten up the room. If you are using a DSLR camera, you can increase your ISO setting and/or try using a faster lens with a wider aperture.
Now, some of you may be asking, does the red eye reduction tool on cameras work on dogs and cats? I have no idea. I tried Googling it, but was unable to find any answers.