How do I cause red-eye in my photos?

I had no trouble causing red-eye in my old iPhone 4; but having issues with the 6s, even with [right & left] circular polarising filters over the flash and camera.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This could be easily answered by browsing the red-eye tag. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Jan 6, 2018 at 15:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just to clarify are you saying you want red eye in your photos ? Most people want to get rid of it. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 7, 2018 at 4:07
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @StephenG - Yes, I want to cause it. Bringing the flash inline with the axis of the camera is key, I know that. But what else to modify about the environment, software and hardware (e.g.: polarisation) is the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – A T
    Jan 7, 2018 at 9:47
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ There may be automatic red eye reduction being applied to images by default. Check to see if there's an option to turn it off in e.g. camera options or gallery. I'm afraid (well, happy :-)) I don't use an iPhone so I can't check this myself. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 7, 2018 at 16:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AT - "Yes, I want to cause it" I have to ask: Why? \$\endgroup\$
    – Alaska Man
    Nov 10, 2020 at 19:28

2 Answers 2


How do I cause red-eye in my photos?

  • Shoot in the darkest conditions your phone is capable of functioning. Don't select a location so dark that your phone must use an assist light to focus before the shot. The darker ambient light will cause your subjects' pupils to be larger. There are also substances, such as alcohol, nicotine, and others that tend to dilate pupils when consumed.
  • Shoot at the longest distance practical for your photo.
  • Turn off any "red-eye reduction" options your phone may have. This usually consists of a preflash that has the purpose of constricting your subjects' pupils.
  • Place the flash as close to the lens' optical axis as possible.
  • Ensure that the phone is not running any sort of "anti-red eye" routine that automatically darkens any red eyes it detects in the resulting photo.

Red eye is the reflection from the retina in the back of the eye. It is caused by the angle reflecting the flash straight back, specifically caused by the flash being too near the lens axis. When the flash is mounted more distant from the lens, the angle is too great to be able to reflect straight back, so the lens does not see it reflected back.

The rough rule of thumb in photography about red eye has always been the flash head should be at least one inch from the lens for every foot of distance to the subject. This is one reason camera hot shoe flashes are built so tall, to increase that distance, to get the flash away from the lens axis.

Regular cameras can place the flash off camera, or can aim it up to bounce from the ceiling. I don't think there's much that be done for cell phones. It will of course help if the subject is not looking back directly at the camera.


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