Red eyes happen in flash photos when the light from the flash goes through the subject’s pupils and then reflects from the blood vessels in the eye into the lens of the camera. Taking photos in an area where the light level is low makes red-eye more likely because the subject’s pupils are wide open in low light. Here are tips for how to prevent red-eye when taking flash photos.
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Use the Red-Eye Reduction Setting
Today’s digital cameras have a red-eye reduction mode that works by using pre-flashes to get the subject’s pupils to contract and, therefore, lessen the chance of red-eye. After these pre-flashes have done their work, the main flash goes off. Beware that using the red-eye reduction function delays the shot. Therefore, the choosing red-eye reduction function is not the best choice if you don’t have time to pose the subject.
Use Bounce Flash
The chances of red-eye in photos increase if you use direct flash close to the subject as the subject is looking directly at the camera. But by bouncing the flash–directing the flash head upward at a ceiling or at an angle to a wall so that the light reflects back on the subject at an angle–you change the light from direct to indirect.
Bounce the flash from a white or light-colored surface. Otherwise, the light will capture the color of surface in the photo. You can’t bounce light from a camera that has a built-in flash. Bounce flash is only available if you use an external or auxiliary flash unit. Also, bounce flash using the portable flash units discussed here is not effective in wide open spaces unless you use a reflector.
Hold the Flash in Your Hand
If you have an external flash unit and a flash cable that attaches to your camera, another indirect flash method to try is to hold the flash in one hand so you can position it at a greater distance from the lens. No matter whether you use bounce or hand-held flash, light from an indirect flash is not as bright as light from a direct flash. Therefore, there’s need for exposure compensation.
Cameras with dedicated flashes–flashes made for a particular make and model of camera–automatically do the exposure compensation. If you do not use a dedicated flash, you have to do the compensation yourself by using a slower shutter speed, a wider aperture (lens opening) or a higher ISO (film speed).
Raise the Flash Above the Lens
If you move the external flash away from the lens of the camera by placing it, perhaps, three inches above the lens, you are not as likely to get red-eye in your photos. Therefore, if your camera has a hot shoe (a mount over the lens where you can place a flash), you can put an external flash it in to minimize red-eye.
There are many small flash units for sale that will solve the red-eye problem if you’re not too far from the subject. If you far away from the subject at, say, 10 feet or more, you may need to raise the flash higher above the lens. Eight to 12 inches higher is a suggestion. A flash bracket lets you place a flash high above the lens.