The Monthly Lesson – Red Eye

Today day we are going to talk about red eye. Yep! Everybody knows what it is and hates it! 🙂

The first solution is to avoid capturing red eye when you take the picture…

Why the red-eye effect appears in photos? If there is not enough light, the pupil extends to let in the maximum amount of light. So when your flash suddenly produces a bright light, the light passes through the extended pupil and reflects from the back of the eye before returning to the camera. The eyes are full of blood vessels, so the light that was returned has a red color. Thus, the red-eye effect appears in photos.

How to avoid the red-eye effect? You can use the special ‘red eye’ flash for your camera, which is designed specifically to solve that problem. It flashes for a couple of seconds, so the pupil decreases in size. And the smaller the pupil – the smaller the red dot that will appear in your photo. Of course, we all know this flash is annoying because most subjects look away after that first flash and the moment is gone.

So how do we do it? Avoid front light. Red eyes appear only when the flash is located near the camera lens. A side light source would be a great solution. Turn off your flash and use all the lights in the room (use your camera’s manual settings, if you can, to get a better exposure). Or get an off camera flash (to move the light above your lens).

How can I remove it from my digital photo? If you can’t avoid using a flash and you still get red-eye, there is a solution if you have photo editing software.

I use Photoshop CS3 (I know that isn’t what the average person has, but if you do have version CS2 or above, there is a handy “red eye tool” that does all the work for you…it’s much easier!) For all those who have any simple photo editing software on their computer there are a few simple steps to removing red eye, as follows…

1-Take the Sponge Tool and choose Desaturate Mode. Choose a small (slightly soft) brush (size of the brush should be equal to the size of the pupil). It is best not to leave any sharp edges around the pupil to make it appear more natural. After this step there shouldn’t be any red color on the eye.

2-Pupils are always black. So if your pupil looks gray, take the Burn Tool brush that’s a little smaller than the pupil and start brushing in the pupil area a little at a time. In the options of this tool we should select what we want to obscure: midtones or shadows. If the pupil is light, you should choose midtones. If it is dark enough, then choose shadows. And one more important thing: if even a small amount of red color remains after step 1, the Sponge Tool will leave a gross dark brown pattern.

It is possible to just take a round black brush and apply it on the pupil. It is much faster but it never gives perfect results. You can use that method only if you don’t have a burn/desaturate tool or you want to increase the size of the pupil.

3-Flat black pupils don’t look realistic. In the light pupils give off a glare. Let’s try to revive it. To do this, take a small white brush (3-4 times smaller than pupil) and just put a point on the pupil (not in the center). The most important thing is that the glare should be the same in both eyes and equally located. If glares look too dark, you can use the Dodge Tool. In the options select Highlights. A couple of clicks on the glare will make it shine.

And now your red eye is gone! 🙂 If you need more help with this subject or have a question, feel free to leave a comment on this posting or email me 🙂

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