How to Remove Flash Shadows With Photoshop

Written by david weedmark Google
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A flash on a camera can often cause distracting shadows on otherwise wonderful photographs. With a strong flash and weak surrounding light, the flash can cause a thick black line around an object or person. Tracing such a shadow can be difficult, even for advanced users of Photoshop. This is where the Gradient Map can be used. By changing the gradient, you will be able to isolate the shadow from the darkest background objects so that you can begin repairing it with the Healing Brush tool.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging


    Using the Magic Wand

  1. 1

    Open the image in need of repair with Photoshop.

  2. 2

    Click the "Magic Wand Tool" in the tools menu. Click on the shadow with the tool. Zoom in by typing a new "Zoom" level in the bottom left corner of the window if required. Look at the area selected and determine if the Magic Wand Tool has selected only the shadow.

  3. 3

    Type higher or lower numbers in the "Tolerance" field in the Options bar until only the shadow is selected when you click it with the Magic Wand Tool. If the area surrounding the shadow is not discernible from the shadow by the tool, go to the next Section. Otherwise, skip to the "Using the Healing Brush" Section below.

    Using a Gradient Map

  1. 1

    Click the "Layer" menu. Move your mouse over "New Adjustment Layer," then click "Gradient Map."

  2. 2

    Click the colour bar in the Gradient Map section of the Adjustments Panel. This bar may be of any colour, lighter on the left and nearly black on the right. The Gradient Editor window opens.

  3. 3

    Click the "Black, White" preset in the Gradient Editor window. Locate the white "Color Stop" on the bottom left corner of the Gradient Type bar. Drag the bar halfway to the left. Look at the line between the object and the flash shadow. It should be more discernible. Drag the "Color Stop" left or right until the shadow lines are most visible.

  4. 4

    Click the "Magic Wand Tool." Click the shadow with the tool.

    Using the Healing Brush

  1. 1

    Click the "Healing Brush Tool" in the Toolbox. Click the "Mode" menu in the Options Bar and select "Replace." Adjust the size of the brush as required for the size of the shadow flash.

  2. 2

    Press and hold the "Alt" button, then click on a place in the background that matches what the shadow flash is obscuring.

  3. 3

    Drag the Healing Brush across the shadow using short strokes. The shadow is replaced by the sample you selected previously.

  4. 4

    Repeat Step 2 and Step 3 as needed until the shadow has been replaced with your samples.

  5. 5

    Click the "Gradient Map" layer in the Layers panel. Press "Delete." Click the "Smudge Tool" and drag it across the border of the shadow as needed to smudge away any lines or discrepancies in colour.

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