Why Do People Have Red Eyes on Photographs?

We’ve all seen images where people had red or orange eyes that we sometimes cannot help but laugh about it. That is, unless we’re not the ones with red eyes. At other times, we feel spooked because the eyes look eerie. But why exactly does this happen in photographs especially at night?

The answer can be seen in our retinas. When light from the camera flash reflects on our eye retina, the result is the “red eye”. Actually, humans are a little alone in this phenomenon. Try taking a picture of your pet dog or cat and you will see a different thing. Their retina has a reflective layer known as the tapetum lucidum which also function as a mirror. If you try to focus a headlight or even a simple flashlight at the eyes at night, the eyes will reflect back with white, bright light.

Humans don’t have this layer so if you shine a flashlight on their eyes, you won’t see any kind of reflection. If you use the camera flash though, a certain reflection will result and you will see the red color. This color is actually the blood vessels in the eyes.
With technology being so sophisticated these days, a feature now known as the “red eye reduction” has been introduced. These types of gadgets enable the flash to go off two times: one before the image is capture and another one to take the actual picture. The first camera flash is designed to let the people’s pupil contract so that the red eye effect will be reduced. Another simple trick you can try out is to turn on some bright lights on the room because this will cause the pupil to contract as well.

Some people have discovered that moving the flash away from the lens is another great technique to minimize or completely eliminate the red eye effect. On most cameras, you will see that the flash is only an inch away from the lens. Try detaching the flash if possible and put it several feet away instead. Bouncing the flash off your ceiling is another alternative.

The red eyes on pictures definitely distract viewers away from seeing the beauty of the picture.   Now that you know why the “red eye” effect happens to you at night, you can now take the necessary measures to make your picture look truly “picture-perfect”.