Foran amateur photographer,few phenomena are more annoying than pointing your camera at your dog, successfullycapturinghim or herin some fabulous pose or other (and/orwearing some adorable costume), andthen discovering that the beloved animal’seyes look like something out of a B horror flick: “Village of the Damned Dogs,” perhaps?
This not-so-special effect – known in the photo biz as “pet eye” –may beperfectlyappropriate for Halloween; for other occasions, not so much.
Why does “pet eye” happen in photographs? For the answer, I consulted Dr. Alexandra van der Woerdt, DVM, MS, ACVO, ECVO, staff ophthalmologist at the Animal Medical Center in New York.
“The reason that pet eyes show up different than human eyes in pictures is because most dogs (and cats) have a reflective structure in the back of the eye called a tapetum,” Dr. van der Woerdt explains. “This will reflect the light [of a camera’s flash]. It’s also what you see when you see the shiny, bright eyes of deer in the headlights of a car. People don’t have a tapetum, and that is why you can have red pupilsin a picture.”
As dogsage, a film develops on the eyes (to help prevent this, supplement with milk thistle). “That haze that you notice in the eyes of older dogs is often referred to as a cataract, but it is not a cataract (which is a true opacity of the lens). Rather, it is a hardening of the lens – nuclear sclerosis – that happens with age in animals and people. People have small pupils, so you don’t normally see the lens when you look at a person’s eye; and in young dogs, the lens is clear. But in older dogs, the lens is much denser and will givea hazy appearance to the eye.”
So it makes sense that older pets’ peepers will show up even more demonically in pictures, because there’s that much more lightness to reflect off the camera’s flash. Of course, all this may be avoided by shooting in natural light, but that’s not always possible.
The photographers whose work has graced this column – thus far, they include Anneli Adolfsson, Lev Gorn, and Catherine Nance – are professionals at the top of their game, so naturally their dog images are untouchable, whether or not they’ve been retouched.
But for the rest of us, subtle matters of lighting and Photoshop complicate the taking of dog snapshots. This is especially discouraging when it comes to photographing adoptable dogs at animal shelters. When posting dogs on Petfinder and other adoption sites, where a photo can sometimes mean the difference between life and death, the goal is to let the dogs look their very best – and a pair of demonically glowing eyescan, sadly,beoff-putting, especially on a black dog.
Even “red eye” photo editing software doesn’t help, because “pet eye” doesn’t just come in red: it also shows up yellow, white, or – for a truly extraterrestrial effect – green. Happily,Kodak is coming to the rescue.
At selected Kodak Picture Kiosks, the photo giant offers a “Pet Eye Retouch” service. The before-and-after shots above reveal what a great service this is; it’s also really easy to use.
Simply use the locator on the company’s web site to find the Picture Kiosk with the pet feature nearest you, and bring your photos there. Select your photo, click “Edits & Enlargements,” and in the “More Edits” menu select “Remove Pet Eye.” Save your changes and print your photo in seconds. It’s that simple.
Kodak is currently holding a “Possessed Pets Photo Contest.” The winner gets a year’s worth of free prints, which would come in veryhandy when you’re preparingyourChristmas cards for sendoff.
Promises Kodak, whoseFacebook fan page has 63,031″Likes” as of this writing: “Create a fancy frame for your ‘possessed pet’ and share with your friends – you could have this month’s winning photo! Just for creating your photo, you can receive up to $5 off 20 4×6″ instant prints at the Kodak Picture Kiosk.”
That pretty much ensures that every pet photo you take will be a …”Kodak Moment.”