remove red eye from your digital photos
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Remove Red Eye From Your Digital Photos

How to avoid red eyes from the very beginning and secondly how to get rid of them if it does happen?

remove red eye from your digital photos

The best thing is to avoid the flash to reflect from the eyes from the very beginning. Red-eye reduction works by having the flash shine a light into the eyes of the subject just prior to the flash/shutter event. This serves to cause the irises in the subject's eyes to narrow down. The result of this is a smaller opening into the eye for a camera's eye view of the blood filled retina. Obviously, this would work only if the subject is actually looking at the flash for the pre-light. Children (or so the theory goes) don't look where you want them to. ( try wedding photography with small children in the party).

Other factors affecting red-eye are the level of ambient light and how close the flash is to the lens. The brighter the ambient light, the fewer red-eyes, all other things being equal. The farther from the flash is from the lens, the fewer red-eyes, all other things being equal. There is another very important factor to red eye - possibly the most important one. You will not get red eye if the ambient light is fairly high. You will get it if the room is dark. So maybe you are shooting in rooms with good lighting.

The best red-eye reduction is an external flash. The flash needs to be off-axis from the lens, by "enough". If you used an internal flash and got reflections from the eye which caused "Red Eye's" on your photo, how to get rid of it? If you can include some nearby light, it may not be enough to warrant switching flash off, but it may close down your subjects' irises enough to cure the red eye. This tutorials might be a good help.
I quote below some comments, I came across, about this subject from several newsgroups.
  • Red-eye is a function of at least three things:
    1. Ambient light level (low level causes subject's retina to open wider to admit more light, exposing the iris which is what reflects the red light.) 2. Age of subject. "The younger the subject, the wider the retina," hence the greater the red-eye effect.

    3. Reflected angle of the flash as the light is bounced off the subject back to the camera. The closer outgoing beam is to the reflected beam, the greater the red-eye effect. (A flash bracket helps here to get the flash a bit removed from the proximity of the lens.)
    Patrick Warnshuis

  • - The only important thing is the angle between the flash beam and the lens axis. The rule of thumb here is designed to keep that angle wide enough that the flash doesn't reflect off the subject's retina and right back into your lens. Film speed does not matter, and zoom position doesn't matter as long as you can focus on your subject when you are close enough. How close is close enough?

    1. Rule of thumb: measure the distance between centre of lens and centre of flash in INCHES, multiply that numbers by two. The result is how many FEET you can be from your subject before redeye starts to bite you.

    2. Example: flash 2.5 inches from lens... stay within 5 feet of subject's eyes.
  • Things which matters!
    1.Film speed (ASA/ISO) only has a bearing in that you are less likely to use a flash with faster film.

    2. Red-eye is a reflection of the flash off of the subject's retina. It is more pronounced in pale people (blond, blue eyes, or light-red hair). It is also more pronounced in children.

    3. The red-eye reduction mode will cause the subjects' pupils to contract, which in turn reduces the amount of red-eye visible. Not all cameras have this, but those that do should effectively REDUCE but not eliminate the problem.

    4. Not applicable to P&S cameras would be the solution of moving the flash farther away from the lens. This works well with external flash units

    5. However, by moving in closer to the subject you increase the angle of reflection, and thus reduce the risk of creating red-eye. One way to move closer without changing the layout of the picture is to pull back to a wider angle. This will increase the " wide angle distortion " look, but you will gain the benefit of reduced red-eye. The farther back you move when taking the picture the slighter the angle of reflection, and the greater the reflection becomes. Thus, you should use a wide-angle mode rather than telephoto when you're worried about red-eye.

    6.Take two or more pictures. The first picture will cause the eyes to contract.

    7. You may also improve the control of red-eye by increasing ambient light like turn on more lights in the room and remove the shades from the lamps in the room. This will cause the subject's pupil to contract more, and it will also in some cases permit you to take the picture without the flash.

    8. Having the subject not look directly at the camera will also decrease red-eye.

    9. There is no such thing as a red-eye eliminating point-and-shoot, but with practice you can reduce it and eliminate it by shooting in ways that won't promote it.

  • 1. Another way to "reduce" red-eye is to simply provide as much ambient light in the room as possible. This will cause the subject's iris to go even smaller. Then, when the red-eye reducer light beam comes on, the subject's iris will go even smaller in the short period of time before the main flash pops. It should help a little more.
    -- Marc Auth AUTHentic Photo!
  • 1. The built in flash on all cameras tends to produce red-eye, even with the red-eye reduction beam aimed at the subjects eyes. The built-in flash is better used as a fill flash if the camera permits it.
  • It is better to get an off-camera flash mounted 12" above the lens to reduce red-eye (or use a flash bounce device).
    Jim Arnold Dallas, TX
The best thing is to avoid the flash to reflect from the eyes from the very beginning

Have you updated your image software to Photoshop CS2 or CS3, you then have inside the program itself, a much simpler tool to get rid of red eyes than what this tutorial offers. However, now and then, you still might need to use this technique. In one image, when I used this Photoshop tool, not only the eye got blue but half the face also.

If it now has happened and you have i.e. Photoshop you have all the tools needed to change the colours from red to the original colours. There are several methods and here is one! Maybe not the fastest but the one which keeps structure of the pupil, and the white light reflexes in the eye intact. If one can say so?

red eye removal
1. Open the channel palette and look for the best pupil (in this case the darkest).Most likely it will be the Green channel. Definitely not the red channel in this case.

2. Use the elliptical marquee tool from the toolbox to select one of the pupils. Hold down the Shift to select the second pupil according to the picture just below.

markering av bägge ögonen
3.With the elliptical marquee tool selected select now Anti-aliased in the Marquee Options palette to define a smooth edge. Enter value 1 for the Feather Radius value to softening the edges of the selection.
Tips: Save the selection (by clicking on the save selection icon in the channel palette) as an alpha-channel. If you later on want to adjust something it is very easy to activate it again.)

4. Copy now the selected pupils when you are in the green channel only. With the selections still active, click on the red channel and choose Edit > Paste into, from the top main menu of Photoshop. What we do is that we copy the " good" pupil from the green channel into the "bad" one in the red. channel

5.Activate now the blue channel and repeat the command "Paste Into"

6. Click now on the RGB-channel. Like magic! Or what do you think?

Nu korrigerade
There are many methods and opinions about which are the best methods. I quote some opinions from some newsgroups during the last months.
  1. My favourite method, and by far the simplest, is to fire up your paint brush, put it on a nice green, lower the opacity, and paint over the red using your zoom tool. Green, for these purposes, is opposite red on the colour wheel, so it's the complementary colour, and they will cancel each other out. This method will work for any version. You'll just have to mess with the opacity, depending on how red the eye is.
    ........ Well, I hate to keep harping, but I'll tell you, using the green and paintbrush is much easier. Last night, for example, I was doing some work on a photo, and noticed a lot of pink in the hand of one of the people. So I used a very pale moss green, set on 3% opacity, and I swear, you could watch the red come right out. It... WAS..... AMAZING!!! So it's a very valid technique, that doesn't just work on eyes.
    Opus (:>
  2. Retouch>Hue to target. select a colour and brush over the red. Only the hue will change, white to black grey scale colours will be unchanged. Easy and quick.
    Ronald Vick

A free action for Red Eye removal from, can be downloaded here.    For PC    and for    For Mac.    Have tried it myself and it works fine on the image above.The action should work on either individual images or in batch mode. If you have a PC, copy it into your Photoshop Action folder ( Adobe--> Photoshop--> Presets--> Photoshop Actions)
  1. Zoom in your subject eye
  2. Choose the elliptical marquee tool and create a selection on the red eyes (Hold the shift key to select both eyes simultaneously
  3. Higlight " Red-eye_action"
  4. Press play and good luck

Updated March 20, Year 2008.                This document validates as Photoshop CS3 Transitional!