A neat way to remove the old red eye problem when you’ve taken a portrait with your camera’s built-in flash and the subject was staring right at the camera, is to paint it away. Unfortunately, this can be less than realistic because the catchlight and other details in the eye are lost.
Instead, of simply blasting black into the eye, use a
soft brush set to ‘color’ mode and set the brush color to black. Then carefully paint over the red-eye area to remove it. This desaturates the area you painted over without loss of detail in the eye. You might want to then use the “burn” tool to darken the pupil a little more to produce an even better result.
The catchlights in the eye and any other gradations are retained with this red eye removal technique – results in a much more natural look than those automatic red eye removal tools in iPhoto and other programs.
Sometimes the red eye flash back from the retina spills over into the iris too. You hopefully know what colour your subject’s eyes are normally so set the foreground colour to that hue rather than black (if you have a photo of them without red-eye use the dropper tool to grab the color) and with a soft and suitably sized brush set to “color” mode once more, paint over the iris area with this color. Results may vary and you may want to use masks and layers and all that other stuff to help you get the most natural and authentic look. Obviously, none of this is automatic, but then who wants automatic photography?
I’m proud to say that this tip was featured in Geoff Lawrence’s flash photography tutorial from whom we’ve borrowed the thumbnail of the red-eye girl above.