Shadows are a double edged sword
In photography, they can be used strategically to enhance shapes and form or even the overall tone of the image. But at the same time, inconveniently located harsh and harsh shadows can just about destroy an otherwise beautiful photograph.
Some of the photos you may not want in your shot are those that appear on the background behind your subject. This can occur commonly in studio or other indoor settings.
But fear not, there is a fairly easy way to correct it with the use of Photoshop or most other common editing tools. (This works especially well with either black or white backdrops but may work adequately with other really dark or really light colors as well).
Once you’ve opened your photo and decided what shadows much be removed, select your Dodge/Burn tool in Photoshop or the equivalent in another program.
If you’re working with a white (or really light backdrop), you’ll want to use the dodge tool. The reverse is true if you’re image has a black (or really dark) backdrop.
You may need to adjust the exposure and brush size. It is best to start out with a relatively low exposure such as 25% too see how things look. You can always adjust it to a higher or lower level if need be.
Use the tool to cover over the shadowy part of the background that you want to remove and that’s really all there is to it.
It may take some trial and error but you’ll get there.
While in most cases, the use of flash in photography is actually unnecessary at best and possibly even destructive at worst. Pop-up flashes often result in harsh and unflattering shadows or a blown out, over exposed shot. And while it is harder to make this sort of mistake with strobe lighting units, some people overuse these as well. One such example would be taking them along for mid-day outdoor shoots.
But on occasion, using flash can be just what is needed to get the desired effect.
One such example, intentional and artistic shadowing.
Here are two simple and interesting ways to pull off this approach.
1. Place the subject of the shot close to the background –
The closer the two are, the easier it becomes to produce intended harsh but artistic shadows.
2. Go projector-style –
Place an object that can cast a shadow in front of the flash unit and shoot away.
It is nearly impossible to eliminate all shadowing in a photograph.
As a general rule of thumb, especially when shooting portrait photos, soft shadows are acceptable and can enhance an image while harder shadows tend to have a negative effect. This is typically the case, but not always.
Take for example the images below:
The first is a sample of a photo with harsh shadows and the second is one with a softer shadowing effect.
However, in some cases a unique use of dark shadows can add for a wonderful aesthetic fell.
See the following images for as examples:
The first is an amazing shot by a talented photography names Hannah Wessman. The second is a shot I took which is published in my second or two poetry books along with one of my poems.
What lesson can we take from this? While there are rules in photography as in any art form, sometimes they can be bent or even broken and produce an amazing finished product.