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Thread: How to remove shadows in post processing?

  1. #1
    Deucalion's Avatar
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    How to remove shadows in post processing?

    Hi Everyone,

    I looking for help to edit a picture I took during an event, since I have little to no experience using photo editors or imaging programs, I would like to request a little help so I can also learn how to process images after I take them, the picture below is one I took a few days ago and I really like it, unfortunately there's this "very noticeable" shadow on the right side of the face, how do I go about removing it or at the very least to mask it somehow that it doesn't stand out? My only editing software is the one that came with my camera, Canon's Digital Photo Professional, I also downloaded the free editor Gimp 2.0, I sure would appreciate the help and if possible to detail how you've edited my photograph... my apologies as well, I think I haven't sufficiently reduced the size of this image that I uploaded at photobucket.... here is the photo I took...

    How to remove shadows in post processing?

    I know it probably needs more sharpening and I should blur the background more so as not be a distraction, but other than knowing that... my skills in photo editing still leaves much to be desired so, any help will be appreciated

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    Re: How to remove shadows in post processing?

    Wow, I'm not sure either. Normally, I might soften the line of the shadow with the spot healing brush in PSE, but the contrast is so great, I don't think it would work well.

    The line above her eye in her eyeshadow would work, I think with the spot healing brush, but the one around her mouth would be hard. You actually have 2(?) shadows layered there.

    I hope other posters can give advice, I'd like to know myself. It's a lovely shot, There should be some way to salvage it without reconstructing all of it in post processing.

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    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: How to remove shadows in post processing?

    I have used DPP very little, and don't know anything about Gimp.

    In Lightroom, softening the background would be very simple and effective.

    I played around a bit, but soon realized that a major part of the problem is that the shadow areas not only are complex (several light sources), they are of different colour - perhaps different types of light fixtures with different colour temperatures.

    Consequently I can get the shadow out, but then there are colour differences which are beyond my experience at present.

    Perhaps someone skilled in PS can improve it.

    Glenn

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    Re: How to remove shadows in post processing?

    Quote Originally Posted by ggt View Post
    Wow, I'm not sure either.

    It's a lovely shot, There should be some way to salvage it without reconstructing all of it in post processing.
    Me neither as I am a total newbie.
    I am posting only to ask, are you sure you have GIMP 2.0.
    I have just started on the PP process, and I downloaded GIMP 2.8.

    But having looked again, I think the healing/cloning tool in GIMP may be a useful tool.
    Bit it will be painstaking work, done in the highest magnification, and a times with the smallest clone tool, and changing it "pixel by pixel".

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    Re: How to remove shadows in post processing?

    Hi Reginald,

    If anyone ever says "don't worry about getting it right at the time - just fix it in Photoshop" then show them your photo. The reality is that - yes - it can be done, but to get a flawless result it's bloomin difficult.

    Personally I'd probably stack to versions of the image on different layers and then paint a mask (as a starting point anyway) and then retouch the transition zone - lot of work though.

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    Re: How to remove shadows in post processing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post

    'If anyone ever says "don't worry about getting it right at the time - just fix it in Photoshop" then show them your photo. The reality is that - yes - it can be done, but to get a flawless result it's bloomin difficult.'
    I must agree with Colin, this really a lesson for all of us, try as best as possible to get the set-up right before pressing the camera button.
    Again, not trying to repeat what Colin has already said but trying to improve things (remove / reduce the shadow) in PP is a very hard and long winded job, that IMO never looks that good. (There's a challenge ). Much better to spend some time during the shoot setting things correctly.

    John

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    Re: How to remove shadows in post processing?

    I don't have time to do a full retouch (plus it's a bit too low res to get a great result), but just to give you an idea ... (done in Photoshop)

    How to remove shadows in post processing?
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 8th December 2012 at 09:45 PM.

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    Re: How to remove shadows in post processing?

    A lot of different things tried here; but the most interesting was a blur under a exclusion layer. The blur brush was the most effective though.
    color 100%
    Pin Light levels low gamma 100%
    luminosity 30%
    color 100%
    Exclusion 100%
    Multiplicity 100% Gauss 30p
    Screen 100% X4
    all duplicated base images

    Then soften edges with 100% blur gives:

    How to remove shadows in post processing?
    Last edited by arith; 8th December 2012 at 08:56 PM.

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    Re: How to remove shadows in post processing?

    The face is relatively easy. It's the neck that presents a problem if you want to alter that. But probably best left alone as the previous edits.

    However, I've had a go at that area mostly along the same lines as Colin's suggestion. Used a variety of Curves adjustment layers, Clone Tool and Healing Brush with various opacity settings.

    How to remove shadows in post processing?

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    Re: How to remove shadows in post processing?

    Some good replies and attempts here (I gave up).

    Anybody that has tried it knows why I mentioned the shadows on the neck as being so difficult.

    Three shadows of her chin created by three different lights.

    The worst one is the upside down "bell shaped" curve that roughly parallels her chin, which makes her neck look like it's covered with different coloured skin.

    With apologies to the OP photographer, the lighting was really bad - not much you can do when the subject isn't in a studio where the lighting can be controlled.

    I keep seeing a little black/brown horn sticking out of her head.

    Glenn

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    Re: How to remove shadows in post processing?

    I don't like what I or anybody else has done becuase 'warts and all' I like the dark sultry original. It is 'wrong' photographically but 'what the hell' it is what the situation gave you and you captured a lovely image.
    After a couple simple approaches which didn't work I went back to Paint Shop Pro and their 'one click fix' ... did it twice on whole photo and then selected the neck area and did it again just on that area. I do not think blurring the background helps at all becuase out of focus highlights attract attention more than sharp ones do, though I often read people suggesting one should do this.
    How to remove shadows in post processing?

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    Re: How to remove shadows in post processing?

    Since I don't have to earn a living anymore I have time to play if something interests me and I wondered if the dislike of the shadows came from the brightness in the background so I cloned the red areas to cover the bright parts of the background and then because it looked rather messy I split the file into its Red Green and Blue components and used the PSP blurr tool to smooth out the red area of Red and Green. Combined them back and again a compo to compare the result with the original image. First time I have thought to do this splitting so thankyou for the opportunity Reginald
    How to remove shadows in post processing?
    I seem to have got mixed up with my copies as the righthand one looks like my modified version rather than the original with the red b/g much more intense. Unless it is the changes which come from copying a jpg several times ... think that is what it is.
    Last edited by jcuknz; 9th December 2012 at 07:38 AM.

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    Re: How to remove shadows in post processing?

    I take two things away from this thread (mixed with a bit of personal experience);
    1) it is all too easy to get carried away and go too far in PP
    2) if at all possible, rectify things at the time of shooting

    I say 2) because taking someones photo under those awful downlighters is a recipe for disaster

    I do fully appreciate Reginald had no control over 2), I doubt he could even have asked her to step back or forward a foot or two to (hopefully) find a place with less 'dramatic' shadows. The only (totally impractical) suggestion would have been to get someone closer to her to hold a reflector and bounce some fill toward her, or have her hold a sheet of 20" x 12" paper just out of shot below her bust.

    Occasionally I have to take "ID card" style photos of new people at work (with a P&S) and so I can definitely sympathise with the problems these downlighters cause - I am still looking for the optimum location at work to place my subjects to get predictable results (come rain, shine or darkness - working quickly and alone).
    I also have to process all the shots taken by others (without any photographic knowledge), so I see a lot of bad examples (much worse than this) and to make matters worse, I have a PP tool that doesn't do localised corrections, so I definitely need to start from a shadow free original.

    Which do I like above?
    Colin's background, but with an exposure on the young lady that is somewhere between Colin's and Steve's (arith).

    Hope that helps,

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    Re: How to remove shadows in post processing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I don't have time to do a full retouch (plus it's a bit too low res to get a great result), but just to give you an idea ... (done in Photoshop)

    How to remove shadows in post processing?
    Very good result Colin small file notwithstanding. How did you do it?

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    Re: How to remove shadows in post processing?

    Quote Originally Posted by ANSORB View Post
    Very good result Colin small file notwithstanding. How did you do it?
    Thanks John,

    Just "the usual" (Layers / clone stamp etc).

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    Re: How to remove shadows in post processing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Reginald,

    If anyone ever says "don't worry about getting it right at the time - just fix it in Photoshop" then show them your photo. The reality is that - yes - it can be done, but to get a flawless result it's bloomin difficult.

    Personally I'd probably stack to versions of the image on different layers and then paint a mask (as a starting point anyway) and then retouch the transition zone - lot of work though.
    Absolutely Colin! Even tho my focus is Photoshop, I realized early on that I had to learn alot more about photography if I wanted my final product to be worth looking at. That is why I am here. Now, of course, I'm finding photography a world of fun in itself.

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    Re: How to remove shadows in post processing?

    Quote Originally Posted by jcuknz View Post
    I don't like what I or anybody else has done becuase 'warts and all' I like the dark sultry original. It is 'wrong' photographically but 'what the hell' it is what the situation gave you and you captured a lovely image.
    Exactly my thoughts.

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    Re: How to remove shadows in post processing?

    Quote Originally Posted by ggt View Post
    Absolutely Colin! Even tho my focus is Photoshop, I realized early on that I had to learn alot more about photography if I wanted my final product to be worth looking at. That is why I am here. Now, of course, I'm finding photography a world of fun in itself.
    Hi Gretchen,

    Photoshop is a wonderful tool - but we often get the "big question" askong "get it right in-camera or fix it in Photoshop?" - and there's no "one size fits all" answer. My personal thoughts are "whichever is fastest / safest / most practical":

    - If I'm about to take 800 frames of a model - and she has a single strand of hair stuck to her face (or a chocolate stain around her mouth) then it's a heck of a lot easier to fix it before we start shooting than to remove the same thing 800 times in Photoshop. If it's a model with acne then it's a heck of a lot faster to fix it in Photoshop then it is to wait 5 years for her complexion to clear! I also prefer to hang models from helicopters in Photoshop rather than so to the expense of hiring the real things!

    Folks need to realise though that Photoshop can also take an image well beyond how it "really was" at the time -- so it's impossible to get those kinds of shots SOOC.

    As a general rule though, I want to get the data into Photoshop in the best possible condition -- so (as an example) I'd always correct an exposure issue first rather than relying on Photoshop to change it significantly - or adjust lighting to make my post-processing job a lot easier.

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    Re: How to remove shadows in post processing?

    Here is my attempt using shadow and white balance adjustments in Lightroom.

    And it looks like I don't know how to post images either
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by pthoutex; 9th December 2012 at 08:08 PM.

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    Re: How to remove shadows in post processing?

    Thank you everyone for your help and comments about the image I posted, I really like that picture but my concern with it is probably best noted by Gretchen, two different shadows on the right side of her face, first the darker shadow that's closer to her hair and the lighter shadow on top but with a "noticeable" border that runs from her right eye parallel to her nose, down to her chin.

    maybe I should not have used the word "remove" what I really wanted was to find a way to blend the two (2) layered shadows on the right side of her face, w/out that lighter shadow producing a border like line. The image I posted is a JPEG image, would everyone have more to work with if I posted the RAW file? (sRAW) I actually agree with Dave probably an edit between Colin's work and Steve's work would do the trick.

    I didn't really want the shadows to be removed entirely (I think shadows have their place in pictures too) just made soft/blended (? is that the term?) enough so as not to be so noticeable, kind of progression from a lighter shade to darker shade w/out that annoying "line"... in fact, that image was one of my favorite pictures when I took it, i just noticed those uneven shadows when I uploaded it to my PC.

    thank you jcuknz for liking the image, "warts and all" I like it very much too that's why I was hoping someone can save it thru post processing (and thank you for the opportunity to be of service to your editing skills a well ) also thanks Dave for saying that you've seen much worse.. I probably have one of those images too somewhere in my photos of that day, in fact I think this image is probably one of those that you're thinking of

    How to remove shadows in post processing?

    truth be told, there was always something funny in the lighting in the area where that shot was taken, if you've read my "first picture post" in the people and pets section of the forum, you can get an I idea of the kind of challenge that i experienced in the lighting in the area where the model was standing in relation to where I was standing when I took that picture. It was a brightly lit spot, but it was a combination of different lights from all around that probably contributed to much of the shadows in the image.

    I just wanted help editing the image because I did not want it to fall under the "charge to experience" category, tho it seems that I can blame that image capture to my inexperience in shooting under those conditions w/out control of the lighting as well as how the place was lit where she was standing. while I am still learning photography I do like the idea of getting it right the first time... and then edit away the tiny errors that you notice after uv uploaded the image to a larger screen

    Rawill I do have Gimp 2.8 downloaded, I think its the newest version, is it just as powerful as Photoshop or Lightroom when it comes to editing images? I'm thinking something much simpler to learn would be better than jumping head first into a complex image editing software would be a nice place to learn image editing, but I could probably get PS or Lightroom it they are better to work images with.

    also, if anyone can find the time... please continue trying to rescue my original posted image from a novice photographer still learning the ropes I promise to do much better next time around...

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