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Photography Question 
Jennifer N. Flaherty
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/7/2006

How to Eliminate Shadows in Portraits

How do I get rid of shadows behind my subjects in my photos?? Please help! Thank you!!!

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7/22/2007 6:17:02 PM

Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  When you use flash, it will throw a shadow behind your subject. If they are standing close to a backdrop or a wall, the shadow will be very easy to see in your image. If you move them farther out from the backdrop or wall, the shadow won't be as visible.
If you're using a flash attachment, and not the built-in flash, then another method is to raise the flash up higher by using a flash bracket. This changes the angle between your flash and your subject, so the shadow will be thrown down behind your subject, instead of straight back to the wall.
Chris A. Vedros

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7/22/2007 7:20:09 PM

Michael A. Bielat
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/23/2007
  I am very familiar with both Nikon and Canon's creative lighting systems. If you have one of these camera manufacturer's cameras, then you are in luck for what I am going to say. Essentially, you will want 2 speedlights - such as Nikon's SB-800 or Canons 580EX (ver. I or II). You set one flash on the camera and bounce the light off a wall or ceiling and use the white card up to reflect some of that light back to the subject's eyes and face. The second light will be set to "slave" mode (read the manual on how to set them up in the flash's menu) and it will be placed somewhere behind the subject to hit the wall essentially.
When the main flash goes off, the slave will read that and trigger at the exact same time so everything is evenly lit...
If one is stronger or weaker, set the flash's EV to give more or less power depending on the situation and weather or not your photos are too dark or too light still.

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7/22/2007 7:25:41 PM

Michael A. Bielat
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/23/2007
  Now here is my "without spending money" fix to the problem you have... Get a reflector or some reflective fabric (white) and have someone hold it off to the side so it will bounce your flash's light behind the subjects.
There are 5-in-1 reflectors that are portable and cheap. Otherwise, get 1 nice speedlight like the ones mentioned in my previous post and work on positioning the flash head to bounce the light off walls and ceilings for a more ambient look. It basically diffuses the strong flash light so that it gets rid of the white head look and makes the room just look more lit up than it really is.
This is something that can be corrected pretty much by getting into better gear. A great photographer can take a great pic with whatever, but the better bodies just make the good shots more frequent and allow photographers to open up their artistic side. If you have a simple point and shoot, then you are out of luck for eliminating this in every photo from now on even with the tips and tricks...

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7/22/2007 7:31:47 PM

Jennifer N. Flaherty
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/7/2006
  thank all of ya'll so much for takin the time to get back to me on my question :D. really helpful hints. back up question... how about in photoshop? anytips for takin out shadows or makin them less visible. im tryin to learn all I can in Photoshop, so im very curious. thanks!!

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7/23/2007 5:42:48 AM

Michael A. Bielat
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/23/2007
  As always, nothing can compare to the time saved by having a correctly exposed and eye appealing image as soon as it is sent to the memory card!

However, in times of need, Photoshop can most definitely help to reduce shadows.

I would research "dodging" and "burning". It basically lightens or darkens where you paint (you pick the brush size, opacity and how much you want what you paint to be +- exposed)

There are probably other canned filters and so forth but what I mentioned above is how it should probably be done for the best overall results without affecting the rest of the image. A steady mouse hand will be needed so you don't see any overlap!

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7/24/2007 6:40:59 AM

Jennifer N. Flaherty
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/7/2006
  thanks once again Michael, youre great :D

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7/24/2007 7:07:02 AM

John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
  Just for the heck of it you may want to look at this article here at BetterPhoto: Information about using one light to control the whole portrait.
Thanks, John Siskin

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7/25/2007 6:43:32 PM

Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
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  It's very simple and not at all complicated: Prior to pressing the shutter of a camera with a built-in flash, have your subject move about 7 feet away from the wall or object behind them.

If the wall behind the subject is white, it will bounce the light back to the subject and lighten the shadow. But, the key is still to have the subject as far from the wall as possible.

With a flash outside of the camera, use the flash attached to an off-camera-sync-cord, such as the 'Off Camera Shoe Cord2' made by Canon. Hold the flash above the subject and ever so slightly to the side about 45 degrees. Or, bounce the light off a white ceiling to softly light the subject from above. Hence, no shadow.

I prefer not to spend my life in Photoshop correcting mistakes. It's far better to shoot correctly in the first place, in my opinion.

This image was taken with an in-camera flash, but noticed the shadow is light in density.
If I am able, I set the exposure compensation dial to -1/3 with my TTL flash. By "dialing the flash down" helps to avoid the "overflashed" in my images and the strong shadows in the background.

Hope this helps.

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7/28/2007 8:19:04 AM

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