Remove Red Eye

We have all had the picture with the dreaded “red eye” effect.  We will discuss what causes it and more importantly how to prevent it.

The “red eye” effect is caused by taking a picture with a flash in a dimly lit area. Due to the area’s darkness, the subject’s pupils are dilated widely.  When the flash goes off, the light reflects off of the retina and you now have your red eyes.  This “red eye” effect can be demonstrated in people and pets alike.

Now that we know how “red eye” is caused, let’s discuss some options for removal or decreasing the effect.

Some of the newer cameras have a built in “red eye” reduction system. The cameras having this ‘correction’ ability produce a preliminary flash before the real flash occurs.  Seemingly the preliminary flash will cause the subjects’ pupils to shrink before the real flash. Sadly, it doesn’t eliminate “red eye” and the preliminary flash may cause your subject to flinch and close their eyes during the real flash.

As you can see, you will still probably have some pictures with “red eye”.  At this point your only option to remove the “red eye” is with photo editing software. Some of the good software packages will have a “red eye” removal utility. Software with this option is often as easy as clicking the outside of the pupil and hitting the go button.  The program will convert the red to black.

If your photo editing software does not have a “red eye” removal utility, then you will have to zoom in on the “red eye” and remove the red pixel by pixel.  This will be a slow process.

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JPG Compression, Is It For Me?

When you are saving your digital photos, should you consider saving them as jpg files?

As with everything else, there are some pros and cons to saving your digital photos as jpg’s.

  1.  Some people feel that jpg files are ok for digital photo.

  1.  Other people feel that if you convert your digital photos to jpg files, then you will lose some of the quality of the digital photograph.

Both pros and cons listed above are actually true to some extent.  Jpg deletes some information in your picture to create a compressed file.  For most photos and for most viewers, this loss of picture quality will not be noticed.

How does jpg compression work?  It works by assuming if 2 areas in the photograph are almost the same color, then most viewers will see both colors as the same. Jpg then tries to save the entire area with the closely matching areas as 1 color. This makes the jpg file much smaller since less colors stored equal less file size. Your smaller images may be needed for emails or if file size is important when saving the file to a web site.

An example of where jpg compression could create a problem is if you have a picture with a shadow on a dark background.  Jpg compression will probably merge these 2 colors and your shadow in the picture will disappear.  This might not be a problem if the shadow is not important to the composition of your photograph.

Your main problem with jpg files is created if the jpg file has been saved multiple times.  Each time you save a jpg file, compression is performed again.  With each save, some picture quality will be loss.  Too many saves may make your photograph unusable.  Always edit your photographs in another format (png, tiff, or your default file type) until you get all of your editing completed. Now you will be ready to perform a save as to create your jpg file.  It is up to you if you want or need to keep the original or the edited version in the original format.

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Photo Editing History

Photographs whether traditional or digital, are used to capture an image for a split second in time and preserve it possibly forever.

Photographs are usually considered “factual” when they are being compared to other forms of art. The artist for drawings or paintings have the full gambit of artist interpretation. Photos are considered to accurately reflect what was actually in the camera’s veiw when the photo was taken. 

On the other side of the coin, how easy is it to edit the photo so that it depicts something very different than what was originally photographed? Perhaps photographs are not as accurate as once thought.

The concept of photo editing is nothing new.  Photographic images were first recorded in the 1820’s.  One of the first edited photos was one taken of Abraham Lincoln.  This example has the portrait of Southern Congressmen John Calhoun with the face of Lincoln from the five dollar bill.  This created an early record of photo editing.

An action of cropping photos can be controversial.  For example, consider the image of wreckage left by a tornado. If a photographer cropped out all of the destruction and focused on the one building that was left, then the viewers would have no concept of the actual amount of damage cause by the tornado.

Today’s digital photography almost always requires some photo editing. This is partly due to the digital camera “guessing” the proper color, contrast, and shading of the picture being taken.  This may or may not be what the photographer actually wanted or the camera may have not done a good job so you may be often required to update the digital picture.

Digital photographers should always be mindful of what the original photo was trying to capture. Your digital photo is meant to capture a moment of time, not reflect what you can do the photo later with the computer. Try to resist the temptation of editing all of your digital photos.

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