Fixing “Demon Eye” in Photographs of Animals

In photographs, does your cat or dog appear to be possessed? Demon eye, also known as pet eye, is what you get when the flash of your camera reflects off your pet’s eyes. It can range in severity and take on many hues, including glowing white, greens, reds, or yellows. It’s the animal equivalent to red eye but a bit trickier to fix.

Demon Eye on pets

Some photo-editing programs have an auto-fix for pet eye. The fix is designed to revert the glaring portion of the animal’s eye back to the pet’s normal eye color, with one click of a button. If your editing software doesn’t have such a fix (and most don’t), here are a few pointers for exorcising your pet’s demons, for better photographs:

  • Probably the worst place for your main light source to be is smack-dab next to your lens, and pet eye is a perfect example why. If you can afford an external light flash, go for it. Use it for bounce flash and remember that the flash will pick up the color of whatever you’re bouncing it off, so opt for a neutral-color wall.
  • Though not as flashy as an external flash—no pun intended—you can try an inexpensive bounce-flash attachment for your DSLR camera.  This one has gotten some great reviews.
  • You can also try to fix the problem by hand. Some people zoom in and use a paintbrush tool in their software to paint the glinting spots to a reasonably dark gray (not pure black). Then they hide the painted layer, create another layer, and use an extremely fine-point brush in the software to make a single, tiny mark of white over the natural glints in the original photo. In this way, you make sure the glints are exactly where they would be. Combine the layers and voila.
  • Another way to fix the problem with photo-editing software is to use a small brush with a medium-soft edge to desaturate the dark part of the eye. After, use the burn tool at about 20 percent and use it to alter only the mid-tones. Altering only the mid-tones prevents you from darkening that natural rim around the eye. Then darken the pupil to a reasonably dark gray. Again, you’ll likely need to paint in your own tiny pinpoints of white for that natural and necessary glint in the eyes.
  • Of course, the best and most obvious way to avoid demon eye is to prevent it from ever happening. That is, have the room brighter to start with if at all possible so that you don’t have to use a flash.

Any pet-exorcism ideas of your own? Share them here with us! Good luck getting those demons out so you can photograph your pets to look like the sweet little angels they really are.


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