Home · Register · Search · View Winners · Software · Hosting · Software · Join Upload & Sell

Moderated by: Fred Miranda
Username   Password

  New fredmiranda.com Mobile Site
  New Feature: SMS Notification alert
  New Feature: Buy & Sell Watchlist
  

FM Forums | Post-processing & Printing | Join Upload & Sell

1
       2       end
  

Archive 2012 · Removing Hard Shadows
  
 
dcookson
Offline

Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Removing Hard Shadows


It was my first time using my new flash last night for an event full of performances using stage lighting and my flash. It created some very harsh shadows behind the dancers and performers. How would I remove these on PS5? Here is an example of how the photos turned out..

http://www.flickr.com/photos/77268628@N06/6934290558/

Thanks!



Apr 15, 2012 at 04:01 PM
cwebster
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Removing Hard Shadows


link doesn't work


Apr 15, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Peter Figen
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Removing Hard Shadows


The link works, but you have to copy the entire link and then paste it.

The type of situation you've created here makes it very very difficult to to address. Shooting with an on camera flash WILL create a harsh shadow because of the size of the light source compared to the subject. The best way to avoid this is to wait until the subjects are further away from the background so you don't see the shadows, but that may never happen.

If you're adept at using Photoshop, it's possible to make a mask outlining the subject from the background and then clone in the original background, eliminating the shadow. While that is possible, from a quick glance at this image, it may be quite difficult because there is little or no separation between the black hair and the shadow.

Another alternative might be to ADD more shadow to the existing one to make it appear to be a softer shadow. That might be a bit easier overall to do, but it's still won't be easy to be convincing.



Apr 15, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Eyeball
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Removing Hard Shadows


As Peter suggests, if you have many of these to correct, it will probably be a pain no matter what method you use. Frankly, I don't find it that objectionable in the image you linked. Since they are on stage, the "spotlight effect" seems more-or-less natural.

One thing that helps this situation when you are stuck using on-camera flash is just to always shoot with the camera horizontally rather than vertically. The flash shadow will then fall behind and below rather than to the side and it will either not be noticeable or at least appear more natural if it does appear. You can crop later to a vertical format if you want and the high resolution of most recent cameras will permit this up to an 8x10 enlargement without much problem.

With that said, here is an example of one way to do the correction in Photoshop.
I don't know what your level of proficiency is, but since you have CS5, here is one of many ways to make the correction that is not too slow or complicated.

1. Make a duplicate layer.
2. Use the polygonal lasso tool to select around the subjects. You don't have to be too careful with the selection EXCEPT:
- select slightly outside the subjects;
- include the harsh shadows inside the selection
3. Do an Edit>Fill>Content-aware
4. Do Select>Deselect.
5. Making sure the new layer is active in the layer panel, do an Alt-click on the mask button in the layer panel. This will mask the new layer completely.
6. Click on the mask of the new layer in the layer panel (to make sure that the following painting will impact the mask and not the image itself).
7. Paint white on the mask where the harsh shadow is to replace the shadow with a non-shadowed background.
8. In my example below, after eliminating the shadows completely I reduced the opacity of the "no shadow" layer a little bit to bring back a hint of the shadow. I think it makes it look a little more natural with less of a "cut and paste" look and it also helps a little to hide any imperfections in the mask and content-aware fill.

The content-aware fill can be a little unpredictable so you may need a couple of tries for it to fill in a way that is useable but if you are careful in how you use the polygonal lasso tool to create the initial selection the results will probably be pretty good. You want the selection to include as much of the good background as possible without including any of the subjects or harsh shadows.

I'll also mention that the linked image was pretty underexposed. I brightened the image quite a bit for the example.

Other possible techniques include:
- manual cloning
- blending two different exposures of the same image (will work better if you shot raw)
- warping a duplicate layer to pull good background into the harsh shadows and then blending in with a mask

As Peter suggests, you may also find that just burning in the background a bit or applying a rather subtle dark vignette may make the shadows less objectionable without so much work.









Apr 15, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Monito
Offline
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Removing Hard Shadows


dcookson wrote:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/77268628@N06/6934290558


cwebster wrote:
link doesn't work


Peter Figen wrote:
The link works, but you have to copy the entire link and then paste it.


The link does not work. You should not have to copy and paste it.

Attention dcookson and others: please use the control buttons on the left and/or learn how to use the URL tag. Write:

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/77268628@N06/6934290558]http://www.flickr.com/photos/77268628@N06/6934290558[/url]

to get

http://www.flickr.com/photos/77268628@N06/6934290558

or write:

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/77268628@N06/6934290558]dcookson's pictures[/url]

to get

dcookson's pictures

Most forums use the same system, so it is worth learning.



Apr 15, 2012 at 07:01 PM
dcookson
Offline

Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Removing Hard Shadows


Wow thank you so much for explaining that to me! I have just recently been introduced to PS5 so those were great directions. I do have several photos to do so hopefully ill be able to edit most of them. But thank you thank you thank you!

also, was my photo really that grainy?



Apr 15, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Alan321
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Removing Hard Shadows


Thanks, Monito, for the link instructions.

dcookson, have you considered getting a flash diffuser of some sort to soften any shadows that you do get ? It adds bulk to your outfit but the results can be far superior to not using one.

- Alan



Apr 16, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Eyeball
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Removing Hard Shadows


dcookson wrote:
also, was my photo really that grainy?


No, not really. Most of the noise you are seeing is because I used a GIF file, which is limited to 256 colors and uses a dithering algorithm to mix those 256 colors to simulate the appearance of a more continuous tone. I used GIF so you could see the comparison.

Since I brightened your original, I might have made visible some noise that was lurking in the shadows, too, but most of it is due to the GIF.



Apr 16, 2012 at 11:56 AM
RustyBug
Offline
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Removing Hard Shadows


Took a stab at masking, didn't like my results / ability to get a 'match' ... went the cloning route instead. A little slower work, but not bad if you've only got one or two to do ... shooting any kind of volume and the bulk/effort of prevention is well worth it.

As mentioned by others, darkened the bg a bit, brightened the subjects a bit also.







Apr 16, 2012 at 01:46 PM
dcookson
Offline

Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Removing Hard Shadows


that looks really good! you did masking? yeah, i have a few hundred photos and not that much time. but thanks for showing me!


Apr 16, 2012 at 08:44 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



cgardner
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Removing Hard Shadows


An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Going forward if you invest about $100 and by a camera bracket and TTL extension cord to raise the flash above the camera by 12 inches more the downward angle created by raising the flash will cast the shadows down out of sight and also create more natural looking downward modeling on the faces than flash in the hotshoe which winds up level and to the left of the lens in portrait mode, the cause of the shadows you see in the photo.

The fact that direct flash creates distinct shadows isn't a problem when the shadows are not seen. That's something wedding shooters figured out 50 years ago when switching to 35mm and encountering the sideways shadow problem. It wasn't a problem if using a square format camera like a Rolleiflex of Hasselblad because they aren't flipped sideways. Even with the square format cameras we used brackets because it hit the shadows and make the flash modeling more natural.

Brackets fell out of favor when tilting flashes like the Viviar 283 were introduced. Instead of a cumbersome bracket the photographer could aim the flash at the ceiling getting both the natural downward modeling and lighter less defined shadows and less front > back fallout because the light comes from more different directions and spreads from the point on the ceiling, not the camera. But the Catch-22 is that bounce only works when there is a ceiling.

The best approach is "belt and suspenders": Use a bracket to raise the flash in situations where you can't bounce due to lack of ceiling or distance/power/image noise constraits, then in situations where you can bounce just tilt the flash up or use a diffuser like my DIY design shown below:







You can find the template to make on by clicking the WWW button below and linking to my web site. You can make one for about $2 in about 15 minutes. As shown it bends the flash output 90 and projects it forward. In that mode the bracket (a $50 Stroboframe) is a critical part of the solution becasue it raises the flash and hide the shadows which actually aren't altered much by the 8" diffuser. But as with direct flash if you don't see the shadows how sharp or dark they are doesn't matter much.

In most situations I shoot with two flashes with the one shown as fill aimed directly out of the modifier. Put if shooting with one flash or my slave behind for rim lighting I will open the top flap held with velcro tabs and allow most of the light to bounce up off the ceiling, tilting the flash to aim it and control the angle it comes down. There is also light which bounces forward off the back of the diffuser. Combined the splitting of the flash creates "key" (directional modeling) vectors off the ceiling bounce and nearly shadowless (becuase it is raised in the bracket) "fill" vectors from the single flash.

The advantage of using two flashes vs. one with a diffser are more control of now the flash models the object because it can be move to the side or behind, and control over the lighting ratio because separate flashes are used for key and fill. If you start with the flash on the bracket with diffuser, it makes the results with two lights better. If you use a single flash off camera there is no fill for the shadows. If you don't raise the fill on a bracket and keep it instead in the hot shoe the fill will create the same shadow you are dealing with here.

Again, this is not to fix the problem here, but to prevent it in the future.



Apr 17, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Peter Figen
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Removing Hard Shadows


While in theory good, the reality is that for shots from an audience to a stage like the one posted here, moving the flash away from the camera and even slightly diffusing it will have very little effect at all. The reason is the distance to the subject is too great for the angle of light to change appreciably. You would have to move the light several feet or more above the camera to be effective, and to effectively change the character of the shadow, you would need a much much larger light source. There's a reason that most stage lighting is from higher up.


Apr 17, 2012 at 04:33 PM
cgardner
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Removing Hard Shadows


The shadows seen by the camera from the flash are relative to the lens axis. While it is true that the downward angle decreases are shooting distance increases having the flash on the bracket will produce better results (less visible flash created shadows) than flash in the hot shoe. Every little bit helps, no?

Also the problem with hot shoe flash shadows occurs mostly in portrait mode because the flash winds up level and to the left of the lens, which casts visible shadows to the right as seen here. A benefit of the bracket at any distance is keeping the flash centered above the lens at all times so the shadow fall straight back relative to the POV of the camera.

Besides, practically speaking if one routinely uses a flash bracket for the closer shots when it does create more natural downward lighting it would be more trouble to take it off when moving further back than leaving it on.

If one just wanted to argue for the sake of arguing one could say in that situation it would be better to not to use flash at all so as not to cancel out the modeling of the stage lighting.

Edited on Apr 18, 2012 at 12:14 PM · View previous versions



Apr 17, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Peter Figen
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Removing Hard Shadows


"If one just wanted to argue for the sake of arguing one could say in that situation it would be better to not to use flash at all so as not to cancel out the modeling of the stage lighting."

It wouldn't be arguing for the sake of arguing. It's almost always better to shoot with the stage lighting, but if you don't have fast lenses (faster than f/2) the lighting is often times barely adequate in intensity even if it's of good quality. Having shot many thousands of low light nightclub images, the only time I ever used a flash was backstage and even then maybe once in the last four years. But whether to use flash or not was not the topic of discussion here. It was how to effectively deal with the shadows that were in his images. It looks like that has been done.



Apr 17, 2012 at 09:49 PM
cgardner
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Removing Hard Shadows


I only use flash for stage performances at dress rehearsals where I can move freely up on the stage with the goal of shooting for promotion / documentation. I gell the flash with 1/2 CTO to approximate the color temp of the stage lighting but set custom WB off the gelled flash using a gray card. Setting WB that way ensures that faces and costumes in the flash lit foreground have "normal" color balance with the background ambience of the stage lighting retained with similar to slightly warmer color balance relative to the flash lit foreground faces. The net effect in the photo is similar to the appearance of a performer isolated with a white spot light seen by eye. When practical I will use two flashes, usually positioning the slave behind the action as rim lighting knowing my flash on bracket will produce natural looking results on the front side in the sense of being similar to the stage lighting.

I have also used gellled flash on occasion when shooting speakers on the same stage. The lighting techs at our church use white spot and rim lighting but the stage fill records with a magenta cast in the shadows. So I add just enough CTO balanced flash as fill, shooting into the shadow side of the spot/accent to eliminate the color cast from the stage lighting.

In other situations I use ambient only using my 70-200 2.8 IS which I bought for tasks like that. Given the ISO ratings of today's cameras it's seldom a case of there not being enough light to for exposure, more of how much noise you are willing to tolerate and stopping fast moving action. The solution to the latter problem is to shoot in pauses or peaks in the action.



Apr 18, 2012 at 12:08 PM
cgardner
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Removing Hard Shadows


Peter Figen wrote:
It wouldn't be arguing for the sake of arguing. It's almost always better to shoot with the stage l. But whether to use flash or not was not the topic of discussion here. It was how to effectively deal with the shadows that were in his images. It looks like that has been done.


This is a situation like someone going to the doctor after shooting themselves in the foot and asking for a remedy. The best advise the doctor could give is for the future is to learn to handle a gun more effectively so they don't keep shooting off their toes

My experiece differs from yours as does my approach and shooting situations. I always put a flash attached camera on a bracket because of the inherent advantages of doing so, including something you didn't consider in challenging my suggestion, which is how the bracket by virtue of keeping the flash centered above the lens elimiinates the sideways shadows.

If you did routinely take flash shots like the ones posted here with a flash on a bracket like I have been for 40 years you'd perhaps realize that had the OP used one the shadows he is dealing with in PP, and would be in the future if discussion was limited to PP fixes, wouldn't be there. My suggestion eliminates the problem rather than fixing it, which as you say was already adequately covered in the thread.




Apr 18, 2012 at 12:42 PM
RustyBug
Offline
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Removing Hard Shadows


dcookson wrote:
How would I remove these on PS5?


Prevention is a good thing ... and realizing how time consuming it is to fix rather than the extra effort of preventing is a relative thing. That will be for the OP to decide which route he aspires to choose in the future. But, the OP is asking @ PP correction assistance for his current undertaking, rather than how to prevent.

Strategies abound @ prevention ... along with a multitude of opinion. Sometimes judiciously served when asked for.



Apr 18, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Peter Figen
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Removing Hard Shadows


"Sometimes judiciously served when asked for..."

Judiciously put.



Apr 18, 2012 at 03:49 PM
cgardner
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Removing Hard Shadows


In my experience teaching, which includes five years at a college, people who lack knowledge often don't ask the most informed questions. So excuse me for painting outside the lines you wannabe moderators are drawing to address the root cause of the problem in attempt to help the OP improve his shooting skills to eliminate the need for PP fixes.

I think it is a well accepted fact that a bracket improves flash on camera lighting vs hot shoe in portrait mode. It would have in this case. I suggested it and no more needed to be said. The OP reading it might find merit in it and try it, or choose to ignore it. Either way my motivation was to prevent him from making the same mistake.

Peter prolonged the discussion with what amounts to his editorial opinion about my advice. What he pointed out about shooting distance was correct, but that doesn't make my advice incorrect or in need of correction because the problem in the OP's photo was the result of the flash being to the left of the lens, something centering the flash on a bracket remedies. Nothing I suggested was factually incorrect and is supported by years of personal experience doing what I suggested.



Apr 18, 2012 at 08:28 PM
RustyBug
Offline
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Removing Hard Shadows


What I was driving at was that even though I did a reasonable effort at correction through cloning ... the OP has hundreds to do (now), so his immediate needs for assistance in the corrective aspect seem to be a more pressing matter ... and we haven't really given him much more.

I get RCA (root cause analysis) ... and teaching, etc. I just feel like we have yet to provide the OP with a good answer to his question / need (now). I'm kinda tapped out @ my cloning efforts regarding how to deal with his problem. Hoping that re-focusing on the OP's request for PP assistance might generate some additional effort at his immediate need/request.

Lots of PS gurus out there far better than I ... just thought some more ideas @ the correction could help our fellow FM'er in his time of need ... and teach @ corrective technique that we all might benefit from for those times that prevention (for whatever reason) was not realized.



Apr 18, 2012 at 09:34 PM
1
       2       end




FM Forums | Post-processing & Printing | Join Upload & Sell

1
       2       end
    
 

You are not logged in. Login or Register

Username   Password    Reset password