Photographers - Do you HATE those @#$%@ shadows?

By: Dan Eitreim

I get questions all the time from my photography students about shadows and how to get rid of them.

The bad news is; shadows are a constant problem for photographers. Thegood news is, there are a number of simple "fixes".

First, what causes the shadow? Well, obviously it is caused by the light hitting your subject and not hitting the background behind them.

So, if you've got a problem with shadows falling on the background, one way to remove the shadow is to remove the background. Obviously, if there is nothing for the shadow to fall on, voilla! No shadow.

So, fix number one would be - eliminate the background.

If you are shooting outdoors, position your subject so that there isnothing behind them! Easy enough.

If you are indoors, obviously you can't take down the walls, but you can move the subject further away from them! Shoot them closer to the middle of the room instead of right up against the wall and your shadow problems will disappear.

Another fix is; have a light hitting the background.

If you are using a "studio" lighting setup, once you get your subject lit the way you want them, add an additional light that strikes only the background and not the subject.

The additional bonus to this is that with the use of colored gels, cookies, and scrims - you can make this background light throw different colors, shapes and patterns onto the background.

That way, you can make it into a design element not just a shadow removal system.

Think of light like a ball on a billiards table. It will hit the subject at a certain angle and reflect off at that same angle - like the billiards ball striking the cushion and bouncing off. The shadow on the other hand, is ALWAYS directly in line with the light. So, you can minimize the shadow problem by changing the angle of the lights so that the shadow falls into an area that won't show in the final photo.

You can do this outdoors by moving the subject until the light is hitting them from the direction you want. Indoors, with a studio setup, you can move around the lights to get the best angle. When shooting with only an on camera flash, you can bounce the light off the ceiling or a wall to change the angle the light is approaching the subject.

The harshness and intensity of a shadow is caused by the relativestrength and size of the light.

If you lower the intensity of the light, that will also lower theintensity of the associated shadow. It will still be there, but you may be able to minimize its' distracting effect.

You can lower the intensity of the light by using less power, or by using the same amount of power - but moving the light further back.

You can change the size of the light - and make it bigger - with umbrellas, softboxes and scrims.

Think of an umbrella or softbox like a cloud moving between the sun and a subject. It diffuses the light making the entire cloud a light source rather than just the tiny little sun. Go outside and observe some shadows before and after being blocked by clouds. You should see a dramatic difference in the shadows.

There are entire books written about this subject and this message is by no means an exhaustive solutionArticle Search, but it should give you something toconsider.

Feel free to reprint or publish this article at will as long as it remains unchanged and intact. Including the author bio box.

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