Snap better shots

Tips to improve your digital photos.
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03.Red eye

Red eye has to be one of the most annoying problems for home photographers, turning a great shot of friends and family into something more like a scene from a zombie film!

Couple with red eyeBut while once we had to put up with the glowing red eyes on printed photos, we can now eradicate them for good.

Well, almost. Many modern cameras have a special flash setting that’s designed to eliminate red eye by stuttering the flash and forcing the subject’s pupil’s to contract. In reality, this doesn’t always work but, thankfully, even basic photographic image editors have functions for removing the red glow.

It’s yet another advantage of digital imaging. Some cameras now have red-eye removal functions built into the camera software.

Using JASC Paint Shop Pro as an example (which should serve as a rough guide for most image editors), use the red eye adjustment tool:

  • Adjust
  • Photo Fix
  • Red Eye Removal

You should see two versions of your photo; the original and a preview image so you can see the results of your changes. Alternatively, you can use layers. Open the troublesome picture. Then open a duplicate:

  • Window
  • New Window

Zoom in on the eyes, and arrange both windows so you can easily see them both. Then create a layer on which you can make changes:

  • Layers
  • New Raster Layer. Set the blend mode to overlay
  • OK. Then select the Eyedropper tool.

The Eyedropper tool lets you sample existing colour from a photo or picture. In the zoomed view you’ll notice that some of the natural eye colour is still visible, so click on it to sample the colour. Select the Paintbrush tool, and choose a small, soft brush option (how small, and how soft will depend on how steady your mouse hand is). Carefully paint over the red area.
If your hand’s steady, you’ll probably achieve a pretty good result straight away, but you can also remove any odd strokes if you go outside of the area.

  • Choose Image
  • Blur
  • Gaussian Blur and set a radius of one or two pixels.

Once you’re happy, you need to bring the two layers together into the one image:

  • Layers
  • Merge Layers

Your touch ups will become part of the main image. If you’re unhappy with the result, you can simply delete the layer and start again.

Sometimes simply doing away with the camera’s built in flash can eliminate the red eye problem. If you can make use of natural lighting or nearby light sources like lamps or candles (though be aware of what this will do to your white balance), you won’t have to worry about those glowing demonic eyes.


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