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Help Removing Shadows & Lighting Advice

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Old 08-12-2011, 09:48 AM
kelleyp777 kelleyp777 is offline
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Help Removing Shadows & Lighting Advice

I know the problem with these photos is the way I took them, but I tried everything. It was a very sunny day, and I finally ended up using a fill flash. However, as you can see there are still shadows, especially on the player with the darker skin. I have three questions....

1) suggestions for correcting the shadows and still keeping the detail & crispness. I have attached the original and my attempt at editing. I know I have over-edited #90 and maybe the other player too.

2) suggestions for avoiding this issue in the future. Almost all of the sports pictures I take are outside, and I would love to cut down on my editing time.

3) suggestions for helping with the general crispness of the pictures -- is it all about my lighting??? I use a high quality camera and lens, so I know the problem is with me, not my equipment.

Here are links to my images:

#90 -
#90 edited -

#68 -
#68 edited -

Thanks in advance.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_3539resize.jpg (61.6 KB, 35 views)
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Old 08-13-2011, 02:46 PM
assortedpixels assortedpixels is offline
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Re: Help Removing Shadows & Lighting Advice

If you're shooting in RAW you can start in your RAW conversion.

After opening the image in bridge, increase your recovery to help with the highlights in the uniforms (activate the triangles in the upper corner of the histogram to see when you start clipping), and increase fill light to decrease the shadows. Then increase the blacks slider.

In CS5 you can do a simple levels adjustment, then curves, and if needed an additional shadow/highlight adjustment (expand this adjustment to reduce the color correction and to also adjust midtone contrast).
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Old 08-14-2011, 06:46 PM
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ray12 ray12 is offline
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Posts: 320
Re: Help Removing Shadows & Lighting Advice

Some professional photographers who have been through this same situation before...would bring a large scrim or a translucent panel to place between the player and the direct overhead sun. This would cut down on the contrast in the image and would lessen the extreme shadows you would predictably end up with.

Fill flash (or reflectors) is a great way to control the look of your subject. Fill flash is like artificial sun...and it would open up the shadows further and create a better balance between the darker and lighter areas of your image. Controllable fill light... or assistants with reflectors... are almost mandatory for a professional noon shoot because of the extreme range of the sunlight.

Often on YouTube you can find a behind the scenes look at how professional Photographers shoot bikini models on the beach. (Your images are not quite bikini shoots...but they have the same visual problem...too much noon day contrast) Beach photographers almost always have this large 6 foot diffusion screen overhead that is just out of camera frame to reduce the extreme range of the sunlight. They also have battery or generator powered flash fill lights... and/or several assistants with reflectors direct some additional light at the subject to open up those ugly shadows that plague you in direct sun.

In Photoshop you would use several non destructive adjustment layers (curves or levels) to selectively paint in highlight reduction, skin lightening in dark areas, or mid-tone correction to even out the image. (How to do it: Choose new adjustment layer in the layers pallet. Bring up the curve or levels to lighten the image, do a control or command I to invert the mask to black...then paint on the mask with a soft, low opacity white selectively apply the lightening, darkening, contrast adjustment etc.)

In summary, its a large diffusion panel during the shoot to cut down on the contrast and glare, an adjustable flash fill light or reflector panel to open up the shadows further...and then the use of adjustment curve layers in Photoshop to selectively control the final balance as desired.

Since this kind of shoot looks like something you are going to do often...and you want quality end should look into gearing up... and employing "all 3 light control measures" to upgrade your final image quality.

You are just about to enter the professional leagues yourself... Best of Luck!

Last edited by ray12; 08-14-2011 at 07:14 PM.
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Old 08-14-2011, 08:57 PM
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John Wheeler John Wheeler is offline
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Join Date: May 2011
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Posts: 583
Re: Help Removing Shadows & Lighting Advice

Hi Kellyp777

Adjustments in Raw are best if you can get what you want. In Photoshop here is what I did.

I masked off player #90 from the background. Then using a Curves Adjustment Layer masked by the inverse of the Luminosity Channel to raise the dark areas on the player without increasing the very light areas. (You get the Luminosity Channel turned into a selection by doing a Cmd+click (Ctrl+click on PC) on RGB thumbnail in the Channels pallet. From there you can move it to a Layer Mask. You can lighten shadows as much as you want yet too much and it will not look realistic.

Beside increasing the tone on the shadows of the player I also increased the contrast of the background and overall increased the saturation. Here is the result (hope you don't mind that I leveraged your image to do so):

sampleimg_3539 copy.jpg

Last edited by John Wheeler; 08-14-2011 at 09:03 PM.
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