These days the dreaded ‘red eye’ is less of a problem to us, due to our familiarity with editing software. The great picture that once would have been discarded due to the horrendous appearance of red eyes is now salvageable with a little bit of knowledge (or the friendly expert you can turn to on these occasions). However, isn’t it much nicer to be able to ensure that you don’t have a problem in the first place?

  In day’s gone by professional photographers were the people that could be relied upon to produce a portrait without the dreaded disease. This was due to an understanding of the techniques involved in avoiding it, and the professional equipment that eliminated the problem in the first place.

 Moving on from this time,  the camera-making ‘powers that be’ introduced a new function called ‘red eye reduction’ which helped make life easier for the happy snapper. If and when they remembered to set the function properly, the camera’s built in flash unit would fire twice and thus help to prevent it happening. Of course, in those days you had to wait until your film was processed to see whether it had worked correctly, or to establish that you had forgotten to set it in the first place. The idea, however, was that (without getting all ‘techy’ here) the dreaded red eye frequently occurs when the subject’s pupils are dilated. By triggering the flash to fire twice, the first flash could induce the pupils to contract, and the second flash would then be less likely to cause the problem.

 Professional photographers use a separate flashgun, which is situated a little higher on the camera and can be angled independently. This helps avoid firing the flash directly into the subject’s eyes. Often the flash can be ‘bounced’ by aiming it in the direction of the ceiling. The light then falls in a more subtle and even manner on the subject, creating a strong picture without heavy shadows.

 If you do need to use the flash indoors for your portraits another neat trick, to avoid the problem, is to get your subject to look out of a window first. This minimises the need for the double flash and will therefore help to avoid a ‘rabbit in the headlights’ look.