Red eye has long been the bane of photographers. How many times have we photographed our friends and family in a variety of social scenarios, and the flash photography leaves our pictures of people looking like demons!
Red-eye occurs when your camera uses a burst of flash to capture a decent exposure. In low-light conditions our pupils open wide so that we can see more clearly. This means that a sudden influx of light from the camera will illuminate the eyes’ interior, bouncing off the blood vessels on our retinas – and adding a sinister red glow to our subject’s eyes.
In the days before digital cameras, red-eye related prints that were sent back from the printers were often covered in Quality Control stickers, absolving the film processors of any responsibility for our flash-induced failings. In these digital days, however, red eye doesn’t have to mean wasted pictures. Red eye removal techniques abound.
Of course, for those of you wondering how to remove red eye from pictures, the best way is to use your camera’s Red-eye On/Off command. This reduces the occurrence of red eye by zapping the subject with a pre-flash before the main flash fires to capture the shot. This pre-flash cause the subject’s pupils to shrink, minimising the amount of light that enters the eye when the main flash fires.
Be aware though that the subject may think that the first flash means your photo was taken, causing them to stop posing before being caught by the main burst of flash.
But being realistic, we don’t always remember to use our Red-eye command. In which case it’s best to turn to your computer and remove red eye in Photoshop. Below we’ve shown you how to remove red eye in Photoshop Elements in 4 easy steps.
Red eye removal in Photoshop Elements
Step 1: Auto red eye removal
In theory, the quickest way to remove red-eye is to let Elements do it for you automatically. Go to the Organizer. Choose File>GetPhotosAndVideos and pick From Files and Folders. Browse to redeye_start.jpg. Tick the Automatically Fix Red Eyes box and click Get Media. In theory, Elements should be able to analyse the shot and remove any red-eye while importing it.
Step 2: Try again!
In the case of our image, our subject’s pupils are too small for Elements to identify, so despite trying it fails to remove the red-eye while importing the shot. You can try to automatically fix red-eye from within the Organizer by choosing Edit>AutoRedEyeFix – but here you’ll get a message saying ‘No red eyes were found in the selected photo’. We’ll need to give Elements a hand!
Step 3: Quick fix
Click on the little fly out icon to the right of the Organizer’s Fix tab and choose Quick Photo Edit to go to the Quick Editor suite of common photo fixing tools, including a Red Eye Removal tool. Select this from the mini Tools palette on the left. As our subject’s pupils are small, head to the Options bar and set Pupil Size to 30%. Pop Darken Amount to 60% for solid black pupils.
Step 4: In a click
Move the cursor so the Red Eye Removal tool’s crosshair floats over the first red pupil. Click to sample the red colour and the tool will alter it to black. Do the same thing to the second pupil and you’ll have manually banished the red-eye (and succeeded where Elements’ Auto features have failed!). You’ll also find the Red Eye Removal tool in the full Photoshop Elements editor.