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removing harsh shadows

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  • removing harsh shadows

    Well, i've been reading this forum (and entire site) for quite sometime now. Everytime usefull things, but this time I give up.

    I have this photograph of my daughter blowing out the candles on her birthday cake and surely overflashed it.

    Removing the flash itself hasn't been a problem, but removing the resulting harsh shadow defintely is. Either things start to colorshift or don't work at all. so far I haven't had a clue.

    I've tried the Katrin Eismann book on fixing shadow parts, but it seems that my shadows are really harsh. Anyone else has some clues as where to start ?


    (The Netherlands)

  • #2
    Would it be possible to post the picture? I'll bet someone here can fix it.


    • #3
      Hello Edwin:

      Sorry you're having difficulties, but glad you found us. No doubt some of the folks who are REALLY GOOD at this kind of thing will be able to give you some good advice.

      Help us help you!
      Can you post as an attachment a copy of your problem image? It needs to be downsized to 100KB or less. If you're using Photoshop, FILE/SAVE FOR THE WEB... is the way to go.

      (About 8"x10" at 72 ppi is a good rule of thumb...or 800x600 pixels at about 60% compression.)

      With an image to look at, that would help a lot.

      Welcome to RetouchPRO. Look forward to helping out.



      • #4
        Okay here is a stab in the dark.

        1. Select the image that is casting the harsh shadow (minus the shadow) with the lasso tool and place on it its own layer

        2. On the original image use the rubber stamp with a soft-edged brush and clone over the area with the harsh shadows. Hopefully your image has similar areas without the harsh shadows that you can use as a clone source. Since the image you are isolating from the shadow is on its own layer you don’t have to worry about accidentally cloning over pieces of it.

        3. Now all you have to do is add the shadow of your image back to the photo. Just select the drop shadow from the layer style menu and play with the settings until you are satisfied. For a realistic shadow make sure you place it where the old shadow was, and to avoid a harsh shadow trying lowering the opacity and even adding a slight blur to it.

        Hope this helps.



        • #5
          Lightening just shadow areas

          I am assuming there is still detail left in your shadow areas. If so, I can think of three ways to proceed...might need all of them. Make several layers of dupes of your picture, then:

          1. Adjust "curves" specifically for shadow areas.

          2. "Equalize" adjustment will help as well.

          3. Set the blend mode between two layers to "screen."

          All of these, in different combinations, will lighten your shadows. Ignore what it does to the rest of the photo, since you will get rid of that later.

          Second step is to compare the contrast in the original to the contrast in your best effort shadow-lightened version, then adjust it to match. This is important, because if you fail to match the contrast, the patch will be noticeable.

          Last thing you do is place the corrected picture in a layer over the original layer and erase away the unwanted parts with a large fuzzy eraser. This will blend them together seamlessly and then you can flatten it to make one much improved picture.

          If your image is in color, you will have to work with even more layers and adjustments to correct mismatched colors before proceeding, so you might want to do the adjustments to the shadows in black and white, then blend to "color" later to put the correct colors back.

          Why don't you upload the photo in question here and let us see what we can do? Sounds like a good one to work on.



          • #6
            To separate colour from tone in Photoshop, so that one can be edited independently of the other...

            i) Use a layer or edits in color blend/fade/tool and luminosity for tone and not colour.

            ii) Editing in LAB mode is the deeper step - when you need actual access to the pixels that make up the luminosity or colour.

            So it is possible to make wild edits that affect tone but does not throw colour off.

            More on LAB and the principles of splitting colour and tone can be found here:


            Stephen Marsh.


            • #7
              Harsh shadows

              Well , a lot of good help and ideas. Gotta try them all ! Thanks a lot to all of you.

              There's been a request to post an example.

              Here it is. It a little over saturated here, as I've been fiddling with curves to adjust. But especially the cast shadow on the window posts is the issue I mean. (apart form the window posts being white, but that'sa a completely different matter), I want that shadow to, ideally, disapear.

              I've been getting some results with using an adjustment layer and change the blend mode to luminosity

              Cloning a good area from the windowpost to the shadow area hasn't worked so far as I keep getting blobs and traces of cloning. The issue here is that the window posts itself is a pretty even surface , plain white paint.

              I'm very interested to find how things progress. Thanks so far
              Attached Files


              • #8
                There are many methods, many more kosher than this, however its one I use loads and really simple to boot.

                hope it helps. I had a look at it earlier and the black channel in CMYK contains no shadow/marking, but leaves the rest of the photo blown out with whites. Perhaps a combination of mixing channels would produce ok results, short of that I hesitate to use the word clone.


                • #9
                  Hi RedAlert! Thanks for posting the image.

                  This shadow problem looked to me to be sort of similar to Restoration Challenge #33 - Speak Now so I treated it basically the same way.

                  I selected only the window and wall and defined white using curves (on one of the highlights in the curtain). Then I selected just the window and adjusted again.

                  I selected a small part of the window, copied it, and pasted it over the shadowed areas, erasing where it overlapped the child and then blending with some cloning at the seams.

                  I only worked on the right hand portion of the image, so the window frame on the bottom left is still as it was originally. I also wasn't too careful in my selection, so the hair has lost a couple of wisps and the window frame is a bit uneven - but you can do better with a bit more care in making your selection.

                  You might check out that challenge for other ideas....
                  Attached Files


                  • #10
                    harsh shadows removed !

                    Great job Jak !

                    I will follow your technique and see how it works when put in my hands.

                    Actually I was quite amazed as I've tried some copying too, but used the healing and patch tools in PS7 but they didn't quite make it. Actually I am amzed that a basically simple cut and paste is the basis of this result.

                    You dind't do anything with blend modes ? Well, gotta try and will post the results soon !


                    (the Netherlands)
                    Last edited by RedAlert; 08-14-2002, 12:50 PM.


                    • #11
                      Nope, no blending modes. But I did make sure I tried to copy a portion of the frame that was fairly even with no sort of gradient. The part I copied was very small, and it took about 6 to 8 pastes to get the entire frame done. After that, I merged all of the pasted layers and it was just a matter blending the seams together...


                      • #12
                        Here's the correct, easy, 5 second fix of of lightening the shadows around Rachel.

                        Nice picture,
                        Attached Files


                        • #13
                          Mig, your zip doesn't open on my computer for some reason. Is it short enough that you could copy the basic idea here?

                          Meanwhile, here is how I would fix these flash shadows, which is something I usually have to do on my own flash photos before printing copies. Since the shadows are soooo small, it's very quick and easy just to clone them away, working, as Jak does, on the area in question placed on a new layer to make it easier to blend.

                          I also cropped it...way too much background for my taste, and had to get rid of that green hair!

                          Phyllis (who wasn't aware that there was a "correct" way to deal with these shadows...)
                          Attached Files
                          Last edited by Guest; 08-16-2002, 01:49 AM.


                          • #14
                            Mig, got half of it at least...

                            Well, Mig, I changed browsers and got your zip to dnld and open, so I could read your .txt file, but my Mac doesn't recognize .acv files. Could you post a .jpg of your results with curves? Thanks.



                            • #15
                              I second that - Mig, please post a file that we can all read.



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