If you are wondering how to take a photo without a shadow, then you have come to the right place. Yes, natural light is a vital part of photography, but not in all cases. Sometimes you may find yourself doing a photoshoot where you need to avoid shadows.
In this guide, we’ll share some tips and techniques on how you can take pictures without shadows for indoor photography, outdoor photography, and product photography.
How To Take A Picture Without Shadow – Indoor Photography
Indoor photography is probably one of the most difficult things for a photographer to learn. When you have natural and artificial light blending together with the light reflecting through the windows and off walls it often results in unattractive photos.
Read on to find out how you can avoid shadows with indoor photography.
Use A Slower Shutter Speed
The first thing you should do is go to your camera settings and set your camera to shutter priority mode. Your camera will select the aperture and ISO.
A slower shutter speed is important because it increases the amount of light that reaches your camera. The speed you require depends on the lighting conditions.
Slow speeds are 1/30th and 1/60th of a second. But we advise you not to set the shutter speed to anything lower than 1/60th and higher than 1/200, as this range avoids artificial light interference and captures sharp images with no motion blur.
Use A Reflector
A reflector is a handy piece of equipment for any photographer. It’s also pretty an affordable tool, but if you don’t want to buy one you can always make one yourself.
A reflector offers great coverage for the lighting of indoor and outdoor photography. The white paper gives the photo a professional look by providing a soft fill for shadows that are cast onto the subject.
Use a Tripod
A tripod can prove to be very useful in most situations. Whether you are photographing landscapes, shooting sunsets, or capturing action shots, this gadget is a must.
It provides your camera with stability to capture sharp images with no motion blur at any shutter speed or long exposure.
Tripods allow you to capture fixed subjects in low light indoor photography by using a long exposure setup to increase the light sources and balance the shadow-light proportion.
Use Natural Light
The natural light that falls on a window or comes through a room door, gives the subject good, soft lighting. A north-facing window produces softer light than an east or west-facing window.
This helps the shadows make the image appear with a shallow depth of field and good white balance. This form of lighting is much more effective and even brighter than a flash.
Avoid using direct sunlight, because you need diffused light.
Avoid the Shadowed Wall Effect
One of the most common issues with indoor portrait photography is when the shadow of the subject is cast onto the wall. The problem with this shadow is that it is very distracting and immediately takes away the focus from the subject.
This is known as the shadowed wall effect.
The shadow is generally caused because the subject is very close to the wall where the light is directed at.
To prevent this you first need to move the subject away from the wall, and secondly add a reflector or another light source in the background.
Then you need to adjust the lighting position to lower the shadows and decrease the shadow that appears on the wall.
Set the White Balance
Make sure to set the white balance when you are capturing images in JPEG format. This will reduce color cast and help you deliver more realistic colors for your subject.
Avoid using the Auto White Balance and rather choose the specific light source you are shooting under like tungsten, fluorescent, daylight, etc.
How To Take A Picture Without Shadow – Outdoor Photography
Light is one of the most important aspects of photography. Outdoor photography and natural light photos are best taken in the early morning sunlight or during the golden hues of the setting sun.
But unfortunately, when dealing with clients this is not always the practical choice.
Read on to find out some tips you can use when photographing outdoors to avoid the harsh effects of the midday sun.
Face Subject’s Back To The Sun- Backlighting
If you are shooting in full sunlight with absolutely no shade in sight, then your best option is to place your subject with their back facing the sun.
This will help reduce the amount of direct light falling on their face and prevent them from squinting. As a result, the subject’s face will be evenly shaded with no harsh light spots. This technique is known as backlighting.
If you would like to maintain a detailed background or capture the sky in a backlighting technique then you require additional equipment like a reflector. This will help to bounce back some light onto the subject’s face.
Use Shaded Area
The most effective way to prevent distracting facial shadows from midday sunlight is to photograph your subjects in a shaded area. This could be under a big tree or an awning. Basically, anything that casts a large enough shadow to cover your subject.
Shade is important because it creates even lighting where there is no direct sunlight hitting your subject’s face or body. The trick is to seat your subject at the very edge of the shade so that they remain evenly lit, but there is still enough light to illuminate them.
Avoid using patchy shade with a portrait shot as it casts dappled light on your subject which results in harsh light spots on their face and body.
Put Camera Flash On
A strong flash can even overpower midday sun until it looks as if you took the image against a black background. This is a useful tip especially if you have an unattractive or cluttered background.
On most occasions when you are taking pictures you’ll use your flash as a fill light. This means that it will fill in the hard shadows that appear under your nose and chin as a result of the direct sunlight.
Use a Circular Polarizer
A key accessory for outdoor photography is having a circular polarizer. They cut through haze, add contrast to the sky, and reduce reflections on the water.
A polarizing filter is great for midday photos because it creates white light and reduces the glare and reflections on foliage, enhancing the greenery of forests and giving autumn colors more depth.
Use a Diffuser
If you have no choice but to place your subject in full sunlight then try using a diffuser. This is the translucent panel of your reflector. You could even use a translucent white fabric like a white sheet as a diffuser.
The diffuser absorbs the harsh sunlight and evenly spreads it across your subject. It also casts a shadow on your subject which prevents them from squinting.
Wait For The Clouds
If you are lucky enough to be taking portraits on a bright, sunny day with plenty of puffy white clouds then all you have to do is be patient to capture the perfect shot.
Wait for a cloud to float across the sun, then click away! At that exact moment, you will have the perfect lighting for outdoor photography.
However be careful of dark, cloudy days as these bring poor lighting.
How To Take A Picture Without Shadow – Product Photography
Whether you are taking pictures of products from home or a studio, lighting plays a crucial role in the quality of your photo. The last thing you want is to have shadows pop up and draw away all the attention from your product.
Read on to find out how to eliminate shadows for product photography.
Use a Lightbox
A lightbox is a five-sided box with bright white on all five sides. The sixth side is the opening which is where you will take photos from.
They come in a variety of sizes and a large one acts as a soft light source.
The combination of light and brightness of the white inside the box creates a diffusion of light and provides a clean white background for your photos.
Using Soft Light
Light sources that are larger than the product and are in close proximity, will create soft light. This type of lighting wraps around the product and reduces the shadow.
The best source of soft light is natural lighting. The combination of the sun and the clouds, which spread the light over a greater surface area, create the perfect frame for your shot.
Another source of soft light is studio lights.
Avoid Hard Light
Hard light, as the name suggests, is the exact opposite of soft light. It is a bright source of light that is smaller than the object.
This type of lighting should be avoided if you want to eliminate shadows. The shadows and light created are very harsh and defined.
When you use hard to light your product will cast a distinct, hard shadow, and we want to avoid hard shadows.
Your camera’s flash is a source of hard light, casting shadows and creating photos different from what you actually see.
The flash is difficult to control unless you are a pro. To reduce shadows in product photography, if hard light is coming from your direction it means that the shadow will fall on the opposite side of the product.
Use a Light Tent and Pop-up Light Tent
A light tent is a great alternative to a lightbox. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and provide a soft light source that reflects back from the tent to the central product.
You can even use a white poster board, but you need to adjust it till you get the right angle. To remove shadows you need to place the poster on the opposite side of the product across from the light source to bounce the light back.
Use a Translucent Acrylic Flexible Surface with Lighting from below
This is a different kind of technique that requires you to place the product on a glass table with a light underneath, shining upwards.
The next step is to surround the product with a sheet of Translucent Acrylic Flexible Surface. This will help bounce the light around when the light is at the correct angle.
Reducing the Light
When you are avoiding shadows, dulling the light is another option. If you use studio lights, you will know that they have three brightness settings.
By simply reducing the brightness, it can help eliminate the shadows. You can also try moving the studio lights further away from the product to reduce shadows.
How To Take Picture Without Shadow – Our Verdict
Taking photos on your camera without shadows just requires a little bit of tips and tricks. Always remember that lighting is super important in photography, it either makes or breaks your shot.
There are so many different techniques we covered in this article that you can use in outdoor, indoor, and product photography to help you avoid shadows in your frame.