By Julie Adair King

Anyone who’s taken “people pictures” with a point-and-shoot camera — digital or film — is familiar with the problem of red-eye, where the flash reflects against the subject’s retinas and the result is a demonic red glint in the eye.

Red-eye reduction mode, typically represented by an eyeball icon, aims to thwart this phenomenon by firing a low-power flash before the “real” flash goes off or by emitting a beam of light from a lamp on the camera body for a second or two before capturing the image. The idea is that the prelight, if you will, causes the pupil of the eye to shut down a little, thereby lessening the chance of a reflection when the final flash goes off.

Unfortunately, red-eye reduction flash doesn’t always work perfectly. Often, you still wind up with fire in the eyes — hey, the manufacturer promised only to reduce red-eye, not eliminate it, right? Worse, your subjects sometimes think the prelight is the actual flash and start walking away or blink just when the picture is being captured, so if you shoot with red-eye mode turned on, be sure to explain to your subjects what’s going to happen.

The good news is that, because you’re shooting digitally, you can repair red-eye easily. Some cameras have an in-camera red-eye remover that you can apply after you take a picture. If not, the fix is easy to make in a photo-editing program. Many online printing sites and in-store photo kiosks even have tools that let you do the job before you order your prints.