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Old Jan 17, 2006, 3:10 PM   #1
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Hi, i am having major issues when shooting. I use a Canon 20D and 550 flash. I always seem to get a horrid shadow. I have played around but have not hit that magic formula yet. I would very much appreciate some advise on how to shoot and not get them. Also regarding the images I have shot, does anybody have some advice on removing a harsh shadow in photoshop, a tutorial would be brilliant... Thanks in advance... Grant
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Old Jan 17, 2006, 4:36 PM   #2
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Hey, I can't resist -- not because I have a good answer, but because my name is Grant, also!

Does the 550 let you swivel the flash head? If so, try using bounce flash off of a light colored ceiling or wall. This will give a more pleasing, even light. If you can't manage that, try putting a piece of white cheese cloth or a white hanky over the flash tube to diffuse the light. If the flash has a light sensor on the body, take care not to cover it with the cloth. You can get ready-made diffusers from photographic retailers, but try the free route, first.

Both strategies cut down on the effective flash distance, but that's one of those little trade-offs that we must accept with a ragged sigh and a tear.

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Old Jan 17, 2006, 10:41 PM   #3
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Important question - what's the environment that you're shooting in?

I'm reasonably new with doing flash stuff, so there's probably lots of better answers out there.

Assuming you're somewhere with reasonably low ceilings, you should be able to bounce it (the 550 is pretty powerful). The 550 has a nice bounce card built in - pull that out, and direct more of the light in the general direction. I've seen that flash used to nice effect at wedding receptions even with moderately high ceilings. Bouncing is great at making shadows look more natural, since they've had lots of surface to diffuse off of (the ceiling) and come from a direction we're accustomed to seeing light come from.

Otherwise, there's soft boxes and diffusers you can get (or make) that will remove the harshness at a cost of range and ackwarness to move around. Or use some white posterboard and reflect some of the light that's moving forward.

Or if you're going studio setup, you could add a slave (or 2,3) and light it from multiple angles at once, along with your softboxes, reflectors and diffusers. I've not invested that kinda dough (yet), but know there's people here that have.

If you're shooting macro stuff, little of the above applies and you might be looking at some form of expensive ring flash or dual-flash setup, or some custom stuff if you're getting in really close and don't want to havethe obvious reflections.

I find that depending on it less is sometimes most effective. Find somewhere reasonably lit, shoot at an ISO that just doesn't require a ton of extra light from the flash to make a well exposed shot at your flash speed. Obviously that doesn't apply to a well equipped studio or being stopped down to f/45 to get some DOF at 2x magnification, but it does for a lot of things. You can bring light anywhere with a flash, but you shouldn't ignore what's out there.

As far a photoshop for harsh shadows, other than lots of cloning (a tablet is handy) I don't really know of a solution - there's just no data in a harsh shadowed area to pull out. Cloning is not an ideal solution for lots of reasons - it takes lots of time/effort, its hard to pull it off and be realistic under scrutiny, and you're not fixing the major problem of the light being flat on and unnatural for the rest of the image.

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Old Feb 5, 2006, 12:22 AM   #4
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Here's a pretty decent Photoshop method. I think if you make a loose selection of the dark areas and feather just the right amount, you could apply adjustments that would help. You could also try the "Highlights/Shadows" filter.
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