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Why Your Eyes are Red in Pictures (And Tips to Avoid It)

In photographs, do you sometimes have that menacing look that you are about to bite into someone’s jugular vein? It’s called the red eye effect and there’s science behind it. And there are some smart tips to avoid it, too. Read on!

A Really Uncomplicated Explanation of Why It Happens

Actually, it’s blood to blame why your eyes sometimes appear as red as blood in pictures. You see, the retina (a layer of cells in the back of the eyeballs that’s sensitive to light) is provided with oxygen- and nutrient-containing blood by what’s called the choroid. Needless to say, the choroid is highly vascular — it has lots of blood vessels.

When you are being photographed and the flash goes off, that very bright light enters the pupil, which is that part of your eyes that dilates and constricts to control the amount of light entering it. But because the flash of a camera travels at lightning speed, the pupil is not given enough time to constrict. Light hits the blood-rich choroid of the eyes and bounces back towards the camera, giving you that red eye effect.

Four Important Red Eye Effect Facts to Remember

Now that you know the real deal on the red eye effect, let us tackle some of the factors that put you at risk of ending up like a vampire in photos:

  • The closer you stand in front of the camera, the greater the red eye effect. The flash hits your eyes and bounces off of them at a much quicker rate, so those who will be viewing your snapshots will definitely get shocked.
  • The darker the room, the scarier your eyes tend to be. Again, it has something to do with the fact that your pupils dilate in dark environments in order to permit more light in and help you see.
  • Kids are more prone to it because their pupils dilate at a much faster rate in the dark than the pupils of adults. Ugh — but children do not really care whether they have red eyes or not!
  • People with light skin and blue eyes are more prone to it due to the lack of melanin in the interiors of the eyes that can reduce that menacing red eye effect. Individuals with dark skin and eyes rejoice!

A Gamut of Red Eye Elimination Available

Don’t feel upset when you have the perfect attire, accessories, pose and background but your peepers look spine-chilling. Before you have those photos posted on social media, there are a handful of red eye reduction solutions out there that you may utilize to look less like an evil spirit and more like a celebrity.

For instance, you may install an app on your smart phone that allows for the removal of red eye, either automatically or manually. Most photo editing software for a computer has a tool that lets you ditch those scary eyes. In short, red eyes should not keep you from flooding the internet with your photos!

How to Keep Red Eyes From Marring Photos of Yourself

So what if the use of a red eye eliminating tool is not an option. Maybe you don’t have the time for some post-processing before posting your snapshots online or printing them. What you can do is check out the following tips that are guaranteed to keep those red eyes at bay:

  • Have the anti-red eye function activated. Most cameras of today have it, so make sure that it’s on for your sake — and everybody else’s.
  • Make the environment brighter. Before the photographer counts off, rush to the light switch and have the room illuminated to ward off red eyes.
  • Ask the photographer to switch off the flash, and instead opt for a much faster ISO (the speed of the film). Too technical, but it can help a lot.
  • Refrain from standing very close to the camera. Because there’s much more distance for the flash to travel to and from your eyes, your risk of having red eyes can be lowered if you stand as far away from the cam as you can.
  • Never stare directly at the camera. Looking somewhere else can keep the flash from hitting the choroid of your eyes, preventing them from glowing in the most disturbing way.
  • Don’t drink and pose. Alcohol causes the blood vessels to relax, causing more blood to flow in them. The more blood in your choroid, the greater the risk of looking like hellspawn!


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