Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Removing Shadows

Adobe Photoshop's Match Color feature to remove my shadow from panoramic photography. Ideally, if I can, I shoot in such a way to avoid my shadow showing up in the shot, but that does not always happen.

Sometimes I leave the shadow there, or blend it in with a soft brush. Other times I just clone over it with similar material. You can't just increase the brightness; contrast and color and curves also change due to the changes in type of light hitting the surface.
This time I decided to use the Match Color Feature under Photoshop's Adjust Menu. I was amazed at how easy and accurate it was to use.
So my goal here is to remove the effects of the shadow so that the concrete tiles under the shadow looks like the rest of the concrete. First I duplicate the image and select the area shown by the red box in the shadow on my duplicate document. I then make a selection on my original image of similar material outside of the shadow. These selection areas represent material that under the same lighting would have similar color and tone. Once the two areas are selected, then with the duplicate document active, use the Match Color Adjustment making sure to check to box to ignore selection when applying.
Next copy the duplicate image and add it as a layer on your original image. Using either layer select the shadow by using whatever tool works best for you. I started with the magnetic magic wand and made a mask of that. I then used a pressure/size sensitive brush to clean it up. set this selection as a mask so that the only part of the new layer that shows is where the shadow was.
Once I set the shadow/mask the results were very good. In some places it looks like I have a perfect match in other places it looks just a little off. My next and last step is to add a new layer and use a the clone tool to clean up the edges. I zoom in and use a soft brush for this. to help blend in. The edges are there due to either a minor error in my shadow selection or due to the fact that shadows have fuzzy edges.
I was pretty surprised how well this worked. The results are very natural and there is hardly a clue of the shadow that was there. I don't expect results would always be this good. For example a situation with multiple light sources or really dark shadows could cause problems, but for your basic sunny day shadow on concrete it is quick and easy.

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