family and friends

Avoiding the evil of red-eye


You have checked your camera, have extra memory cards and back up batteries, and are ready to shoot. You start blasting away capturing awesome moments with family and friends, only to be shocked by your photos days later. You slowly begin to think that everyone you know are evil aliens! Okay, so that joke is getting old, but I’m referring to red-eye.

Red-eye, in photography terms, is when the pupils of the eyes in people and some animals, appear red in photos. Since ’tis almost the season for many great holidays, and amazing photo opportunities, I thought I’d give you a gift of my own, so here it is, how to avoid this tragedy.

What is red-eye?

For starters, we first need to look at the underlying issue that causes red-eye. Without going into too much graphic detail, red-eye is caused by light from your flash; it enters your subjects’ eyes, reflects off the back of the their eyes (retinas), and then back out the eyes to your camera; all before they can blink! Amazing right?
You might be asking yourself, why the eyes actually appear red, and not white. Well that’s due to the blood that nourishes the insides of our eyes.

Red-eye occurs when light from the flash reflects straight back from the retina into the camera lens

Now that the biology of what causes red-eye is covered, let’s examine the technical side. Red-eye occurs more frequently in cameras the have flashes in close proximity of the lens, such as many compact flash digital cameras. Why? This is due to the fact that the flash and lens are almost on the same parallel plane with the eyes, enabling the light to bounce straight into the eyes and back into the lens.

There a number of editing programs with “red-eye fix” solutions, but don’t rely on that for solving your red eye issues.

What to do?

One of the easiest ways to avoid red-eye is to simply not use a flash, but let’s face it, that is not always an optimal choice. You could always make sure your subject is not looking directly into the camera. Although, this can create some amazing shots, this too may not always be practical or wanted option. If you have to use a flash, and want your subject looking at you, there are a number of ways to help eliminate the red-eye issue.

Red-eye reduction feature

Make the iris smaller and it'll help to reduce red-eye

If you are currently in the market, or recently purchased a camera, many cameras these days offer a feature generally referred to as, red-eye reduction. In most cases, the camera will emit two or more lower output flashes before taking the picture. The idea behind this is the lower output flashes will cause the eyes to constrict thus allowing less light in that could possibly be reflected.

By putting more distance between the flash and the lens, you can stop your victims looking like, ehm, victims.

Pop-up flashes

Another technological advancement are pop-up flashes. Here, the flash pops out of the top of the camera, creating more space between the lens and the flash. This can sometimes be used in conjunction with the red-eye reduction feature. Typically pop-up flashes will be found in higher end digital compact cameras, and lower-high end dSLRs.

Off-camera flashes

The best method, would be to get the flash completely off the camera, by using an off-camera flash. This is a more advanced option, but there are number of great ways to do this, from flash brackets, to stands, and everything in between. This not only allows you to eliminate red-eye issues, but also have better control over your lighting, creating more flattering photos.

Bring on the diffusers

Lastly, diffusing you flash lighting works for all cameras. Some methods may not work with your camera, but a few suggestion are bouncing your flash off walls, bounce cards, flash diffusers, filters, gel inserts, and tons of other professional products, and DIY ideas.

Quick red-eye-free summary

  • Red-eye is caused by light from the flash entering the eye, bouncing off the retina and returning to the camera lens.
  • It looks red because of the red blood cells in the eye.
  • You can avoid red-eye by putting more distance between the camera lens and the flash.
  • Diffusing the light from the flash will help, too!

Now go forth and take red-eye-less pictures over the party season!

Nude self portraiture


Taking photos of yourself has a certain under-tone of intimacy about it at the very least; but choosing to shed your clothes and do the same thing adds a whole new dimension to the experience.

One of my long-time readers, Brigitte, told me her approach to nude photography; She doesn’t share her photos with anyone, but decided to take them for her own sake. It made me think; I know that my blog is quite strongly in favour in sharing all your photos with the whole world, but perhaps that misses a little bit of the point; Who are we, in fact taking photos for? Anyway – that’s a topic for another post… Today, it’s Brigitte’s turn… 


Nude in front of (and behind) the lens

A few days ago I was reading articles on nude photography… and these took me down memory lane. When I was pregnant for the second time, I used to take a thorough look at myself everyday in the mirror and marvel at the way my body had changed. There is an immense softness in a pregnant woman’s curves which I find very appealing, and I knew from my first pregnancy that once the baby is born, it’s easy to forget the way you looked before.

This time, I very much wanted to be able to remember my whole life the way my body was right before I gave birth. Of course, I had lots of pictures taken by my family and friends, but it felt like cheating, by hiding some of the curves while emphasizing others. Most were not very becoming, either… these pictures were taken on the fly, showing me in whatever position I had deemed comfortable at the time, and I felt it was really unfair. To be totally honest, I’m pretty sure I’ve torn and thrown away the vast majority of these!


Trusting others vs trusting yourself

I know lots of people can undress in front of a photographer they trust (Demi Moore, to name but one!), but I simply felt I could never do that, underwear or not, nine months pregnant or not. I did not trust anybody else’s look but mine on my body to take these pictures, not even my husband’s (OK, he’s a poor photographer anyway!), and I realized I would have to be both the photographer and the model.

pregnant-2I selected a plain white wall with a wooden door as the background for my pictures, no direct sunlight but no artificial light either, and set-up my Canon EOS 20D on a tripod. I made the necessary adjustments in terms of sensibility and focus, selected the B&W mode, and used the self-timer to take the pictures. Between each shot I practiced in front of a full length mirror… I wanted to be able to share these pictures with my children when they grow up, so I was determined to be as beautiful as possible (of course!), and if sensuality was permitted, I did not want these pictures to turn out erotic.

And that’s the best part. I know I may sound like a control freak, but I was the one who wanted these pictures, and I greatly appreciate the fact that I got to do them myself, without being subjected to anyone’s influence. In the end, all the decisions were mine, and if I had not liked the result, I could just have discarded all the pictures without any hesitations, regrets, or fear to offend the photographer.

Find out more!

Brigitte is a 34-year-old French lady who works as a translator and editor. You can find Brigitte’s blog on, with her photos in the, er, photos category. If you’re of the Twittering kind, she can be found on @Brigitte_Ba, as well.

The photos in this post are from iStockPhoto

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