How to Avoid the Red Eye Effect

There was nothing more frustrating back in the day than having your disposable camera’s photos developed just to find that your subject(s) had red eyes. This is an annoying effect that comes from camera flash and the harsh light that enters the subject’s eyes. Michael Aranda shares this video informing us about how the red eye effect is caused and how to prevent it in your photography:

What causes red eye?

Light passes through the cornea, the pupil, and then a lens in your eye so it can be focused and absorbed by photoreceptor cells in the back of your eye. The muscle-filled iris controls the size of your pupil and the amount of light that’s let in. The red eye effect usually happens in a dark environment when your pupils are very wide. With a bright camera flash, all the light floods into your eyes before your iris muscles have time to contract. If light reflects off the blood vessels in the back of your eye, it shows up as a glowing red light in your photos.

How can you avoid red eye in your photos?

To fix this, some cameras make a couple quick flashes of light before the actual flash, so that your iris muscles start contracting and let in less light.

You can also try brightening the room so your subject’s pupils aren’t as wide in the first place—or have the subject avoid looking directly at the camera lens.

photography lesson light

On a side note, the red eye effect can be useful for diagnosing eye problems such as an infection, cancerous cells, or twisted blood vessels. Make sure you pay attention to this effect and how to avoid it!

“Your eyes are basically fluid-filled orbs that can detect light and send messages to your brain, so you can see images.”

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2 Comments

  1. Deward Farkward says:

    The primary cause of “Red Eye” is that the flash is aimed directly at the eye. If the flash is moved to the right, left, above or below the camera, red eye will be eliminated, or greatly reduced.

  2. John Swanda says:

    the video misses one of the main causes of red eye – a flash close to the lens, such as a built-in flash on the camera, so the light goes straight into the eye. The best way to avoid it is to use an external flash on a bracket that raises it up, or bouncing the flash.

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