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Photography Question 
Gail Ranney
 

Red Eye Surprise


 
  Cassidy
Cassidy
© Gail Ranney
Fuji FinePix 6900 ...
 
  Cassidy -2
Cassidy -2
© Gail Ranney
Fuji FinePix 6900 ...
 
 
Recently, I bought a 6900z Fujifilm Finepix Digital SLR and I was doing test shots of my 5-month-old great-granddaughter, when I downloaded the photos to my computer I found that out of the 46 shots, only two of then don't have red eye. I did use the flash on the camera and set it to red eye reduction. She wasn't even looking in my direction, I haven't been able to figure out what I did wrong. So I am going to try to upload two of the photos and hope some one can help me figure this out? Anyone's input would be very helpful. Thank you.


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6/25/2004 5:05:56 PM

 
Dave Cross   Hi Gail. You did nothing wrong. Red-eye is a fact of life with any on-camera flash, film or digital. In my experience, the red-eye reduction systems do little to help, often making things worse by causing people to blink or look away. The only real solution is to use a separate flash that is well off-axis or bounced off a wall/ceiling/reflector.

All is not lost. You are using digital. 99% of the software that comes with digital cameras can successfully remove the red eyes in a few seconds.

Personally, I don't bother with any red-eye reduction, just fix it in Photoshop along with the levels tweaking and creative cropping. Cheers,
DC


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6/26/2004 11:18:17 AM

 
John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  Gail, Dave hit all the main points. I would qualify one part: the worst offenders are "built-in" flashes and not necessarily "on-camera" flash units. Depends on what "on-camera" means ... to me, it's anything that's bolted to the camera in some manner and goes wherever the camera goes. For cameras with hot shoes, simply mounting an external flash in a hot shoe and doubling its distance from the lens compared to a "built-in" one can help dramatically.

Like Dave, I have yet to see any red-eye reduction system of "pre-flashes" that eliminates it and completely agree: Don't bother with it. Another major reason to turn it off is the very long delay required for all the pre-flashes before shutter firing. It guarantees missing the "decisive moment" you're trying to photograph if the subject is moving. Going beyond the squinting and blinking Dave mentions, I have had to photograph young children that have been frequently subjected to red-eye reduction flash systems. They are the worst "blinkers." Some start repeatedly blinking as soon as a camera is in my hands and aimed in their direction. Adults can find it a tolerable annoyance, but most young children truly don't like it, and some will do all sorts of things to avoid it.

The basic cause is proximity of flash to lens. The closer it is, the greater the risk. That's why built-in flashes are notorious for red-eye, especially on small cameras. The red is caused by light reflecting off of the retina at the back of the eye inside it. The retina is densely packed with blood-filled capillaries very close to its surface. Because it's a reflection from the back of the inside of the eye, red-eye risk also increases as the pupil dilates. The dimmer the ambient lighting, the greater the risk. Young infants also tend to have their pupils open wider than adults under the same light intensity. It makes infants problematic, even if the ambient lighting isn't very low. I don't know what the physiological reason is for this other than maturity of the eye. The eye itself grows very little in size after birth. For adults, alcohol consumption dilates pupils, slows their response to light, and also increases the risk. Wedding receptions after the lights are turned down are particularly problematic. It's one of several reasons we use brackets to elevate flash well above the lens in shooting them.

Getting a separate flash unit and mounting it farther from the camera lens than the built-in one may not be a feasible option for you. You can reduce or possibly eliminate it, even with a built-in flash, if you can increase the ambient lighting. Open up all the window curtains (if there are any windows) to let in all the daylight you can and turn on all the lights in the room. It's usually much more effective than the red-eye reduction pre-flashes at helping close the subject's pupils some.


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6/26/2004 1:26:29 PM

 
Dave Cross   A quick response to John. You are, of course, right. I meant "built-in" flashes as opposed to on camera in the hot shoe. Sorry for any confusion. DC


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6/26/2004 1:57:01 PM

 
Gail Ranney   Thank you all for the info and I will beware of this from now on. I do have one more question: How did the flash affect her eyes? She wasn't looking at me her mother, kept her attention just off to the side, and I was in front of her sitting on the floor. Also there is a hot shoe on my camera and the truth is I didn't even think to use it. I will from now on ... and again, thank you all so much. You are all great and so helpful.


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6/26/2004 2:45:21 PM

 
John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  Gail, It puzzles me that you would get red-eye off-axis to her eyes, especially in the 2nd one (the 1st one doesn't surprise me as much).

I have a dog and cat, and their pupils can become enormously large. Cats are notorious for brilliant, ruby red red-eye, and dog eyes become brilliant amber yellow beacons. If I use flash with them for some reason, ambient light must be very bright to close up their pupils (particularly the cat's to see her iris too), and I work to keep from directly illuminating their eyes from the front unless the flash is at least a foot from the lens (even then there's a risk depending on distance). From a profile, there's never been a problem, and it can actually show the "clear" lens on the eye in front of the iris. In the two photos you posted, it looks as if the ambient lighting is extremely low (background is jet black), and I'm thinking her pupils were so dilated as to nearly make the iris completely disappear. If this was the situation, you can still get some red-eye with built-in flash that close to lens although it shouldn't be as bad as straight on, which it doesn't appear to be in comparing the two.

Distance between camera with flash and subject also affects risk. Draw a right triangle on a piece of paper from lens up to flash for one leg and the other leg from lens to subject with the hypotenuse from flash to subject. Then change the camera-to-subject distance. The farther you are, the more the flash must be elevated to maintain the same angle between hypotenuse and camera-to-subject leg. Yet another reason why wedding photogs use brackets to elevate flash ... working distances for many photos are greater in the large spaces of reception halls than are encountered in the home.

If you can, try to watch your working distance, but don't get too close lest it affect perspective of facial features. This is something to experiment with ... if not with Cassidy ... with a willing "victim" ... to get a feel for how close you can get before perspective of facial features start to look unnatural. A caveat to moving in a little closer though. It won't help nearly as much using a built-in flash as it will with an external hot shoe flash that's more separated from the lens.


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6/27/2004 9:29:05 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  You can still easily get red eye if they are looking somewhere else. You still have the flash going straight on at them, relative to the camera. Either hold the flash up, off to the side, or bounce it.


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6/27/2004 10:49:46 PM

 
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