Avoiding Pet Photo Flash Eye

Learn how to take phenomenal pet photos.

Avoiding pet photo flash eye is critical if you don't want your furry friends to look demonic in family pictures. Fortunately, there are simple ways to prevent Fido and Fluffy from looking possessed in frame worthy photos.

What is Pet Photo Flash Eye?

Most photographers are familiar with the term "red-eye." In fact, these days, most digital cameras come with red-eye reduction capabilities, which help eliminate that unattractive red glow that is caused when a camera's flash reflects off of a subject's retinal surface.

Pet-eye is similar to the red-eye effect, which occurs when taking pictures of humans. Cats and many other nocturnal animals have a mirror-like layer in the back of their eyes called the tapetum lucidum. This layer reflects background light like tiny searchlights and often yields a distracting glow in a variety of colors, including red, green, or yellow.

Tips on Avoiding Pet Photo Flash Eye

Pet photo flash eye or the "green-eye effect" caused when taking flash pictures of pets can be avoided by following these simple tips:

Lighting Lessons

Avoiding pet photo flash eye is easy if you use as much natural light as possible during your shoots. By doing so, you can eliminate the need to employ your camera's flash.

Outdoors: When taking a series of pet photos, consider going outdoors. This will not only allow you to use more natural light, but it will also place your pet in an environment that he will be able to roam free. As a result, you will be able to snap outstanding shots of your four-legged friend chasing birds or climbing trees.

Indoors: When shooting indoors, allow as much natural light in as possible. Open windows and doors to flood the room with light. If the scene is still too dark, turn on strategically placed lamps to fill-in dark areas. Then, try to place your pet in an area of the room that features the best combination of sunlight and artificial light.

Focus on Flash


To avoid turning your fluffy friend into a green-eyed monster, you are better off not using your camera's flash. A camera's built-in flash emits a harsh light, which typically results in unflattering photos. However, if you don't have the means to use natural light, and are forced to use your camera's flash, consider the following tips:

  • Diffuse: You can diffuse the light from your camera by placing a piece of tissue or opaque plastic over the flash. If you opt for this method, be sure to keep the diffusing material away from the camera's lens.
  • Manipulate ISO settings: By altering your camera's ISO setting, you may be able to get a decent picture without using the flash. By increasing the ISO setting (400-1600) and reducing the shutter speed a bit, you can avoid snapping underexposed pictures when shooting without the flash. This method requires some experimentation to get just the right shot. Once you get the hang of it, however, you will be able to shoot like a pro.

Experiment with Angles

If you are unable to manipulate your camera's flash, consider experimenting with new angles. By changing your position so that the flash doesn't directly hit your pet's eyes, you can avoid that devilish effect. Simply shoot your dog, cat, or bunny from the side. You can also try shooting from slightly above or below. A minor shift in position can do wonders in avoiding pet photo flash eye.

Another tip to avoid "green-eye" is to invest in a telephoto lens. A high-quality telephoto lens will allow you to shoot tight shots of your pet, even if he is sitting up in a tree or is lounging in an area where you can't physically get close to him.

Red-Eye Reduction Mode

While it is not considered the most effective method to eliminate photo flash eye, many photographers employ the red-eye reduction mode on their cameras when taking pictures of their pets. The red-eye reduction component emits a series of pre-flashes that cause the pupil to contract and thereby avoid reflections from the retina. The problem is that pets can see the pre-flashing and it may distract them while you are taking their picture. Using your camera's red-eye reduction mode may help in some cases, but in others it can ruin the moment. What's more, because pet eye is not always red, automatic red-eye tools sometimes aren't able to detect pet photo flash eye.

Practice Perfect Pet Photography

When it comes to taking pictures of pets, practice makes perfect. Animal experts maintain that you can teach your pet the kind of behavior you want during a photo shoot, if you make picture taking a daily habit. In other words, a photo session isn't the time to teach your pet new tricks. Make it a practice to take photos of your pet on a regular basis. If you expose your pet to your camera and take pictures frequently, your chances of getting phenomenal photos increase exponentially.

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Avoiding Pet Photo Flash Eye