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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 20 Feb 2016 (Saturday) 05:49
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Shadows behind subjects with flash

 
KatManDEW
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Feb 20, 2016 05:49 |  #1

I've been trying off camera flashes on stands with umbrellas. I'm getting unwanted shadows on the wall behind subjects. What can I do to avoid this?




  
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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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Feb 20, 2016 05:55 |  #2

Get the subject away from the wall.


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Feb 20, 2016 06:50 |  #3

and raise the flash hire up


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KatManDEW
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Feb 20, 2016 06:54 |  #4

Left Handed Brisket wrote in post #17905446 (external link)
Get the subject away from the wall.

Thank you.




  
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KatManDEW
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Feb 20, 2016 06:54 |  #5

PhilF wrote in post #17905475 (external link)
and raise the flash hire up

Thank you.




  
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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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Feb 20, 2016 07:01 |  #6

Placement of the flash should be determined by how you want to light the subject. I'd rather have correct lighting on the subject with a shadow on the background than compromise the subject lighting to get no shadow.

If you have no space to get the subject away from the background you can also try to light the background separately to minimize the shadow.


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Feb 20, 2016 11:21 |  #7

KatManDEW wrote in post #17905445 (external link)
I've been trying off camera flashes on stands with umbrellas. I'm getting unwanted shadows on the wall behind subjects. What can I do to avoid this?

Inverse square law, or, surface area (wrap around).

1. Move away from the wall, inverse square law will have light fall off faster as long as your modifier is closer to the subject, and the shadows will decrease.
2. Or, if that's not an option, use a larger modifier. Larger modifiers wrap around the subject and produce less stark shadow.
3. Combine the two. Use a really large modifier, and move away from the wall. No shadows.

Very best,


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gonzogolf
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Feb 20, 2016 11:29 |  #8

Many photographers who are new to off camera lighting tend to want to use additional lights to blast away the shadows from the key light. That is no solution. Every light you add to the setup adds one more shadow. So as mentioned above raise the lights, manage the distance to the background, and control the quality of light. One tip is that If you are using a key light and a fill light the fill light should be on the camera axis to fill in shadows the camera sees. Too many think that you want lights at a 45 degree angle on each side but all that does is create flat light or additional shadows.




  
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Wilt
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Feb 20, 2016 12:27 |  #9

MalVeauX wrote in post #17905678 (external link)
Inverse square law, or, surface area (wrap around).

1. Move away from the wall, inverse square law will have light fall off faster as long as your modifier is closer to the subject, and the shadows will decrease.
2. Or, if that's not an option, use a larger modifier. Larger modifiers wrap around the subject and produce less stark shadow.
3. Combine the two. Use a really large modifier, and move away from the wall. No shadows.


^^^
and by putting the light source up higher, whatever shadow is cast falls somewhat downward and 'behind the subject', where it is less visible to the lens.

As pointed out by gonzogolf, lighting the background does nothing to get rid of shadows, although the shadows are lessened in contrast.


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Feb 20, 2016 12:33 |  #10

Following up to the fact that a flash will leave a shadow. Multiple lights will leave multiple shadows. -- Use of a reflector will bounce primary light into shadow areas without producing another shadow like another flash does.

Of course that is not the solution for the shadow on backgrounds. Just FYI in general on reflectors.


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Feb 20, 2016 12:35 |  #11

You can also light the background, thats my preffered method and when used right it can double as a ring light.


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Feb 20, 2016 12:53 |  #12

Any 'specular' (small) source will always leave a contrasty hard edged shadow on a background, you need to position the source so the shadow cannot be seen by the lens.

Any 'diffuse' (very large apparent size) source will generally not leave a hard edged or contrasty shadow on the background, so diffuse sources are not nearly as critical in placement as positioning more specular sources.


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Feb 20, 2016 13:18 |  #13

When you don't have the physical space to put distance between your subject and the backdrop, lighting direction and softness are the next most important things, as people have mentioned already. Using direction, you can try to get the shadows out of the frame, and with soft modifiers the shadows will not have that hard-edged on-camera flash look.

You can also minimize shadows by controlling spill onto the backdrop, through the use of grids, snoots, projectors, barndoors, flags, v-flats and other means of concentrating the light on your subject and keeping it off the backdrop. Even when you can't eliminate the shadows 100%, you can often get them to be low enough contrast to be not distracting, or to remove them in post.

Here is an example of something I shot yesterday in my office. It's my daughter's stuffed tiger who recently recovered from an accidental discoloring and is celebrating his renewed whiteness. You will see that, despite being just 1 foot from the white seemless, there isn't a lot of spill and the only shadows in the image are soft occlusive ones at the base of the 8-ball, which are desirable to have. He is lit from above at a 45-degree down angle, by a strip softbox with grid. The wideness of the strip relative to the subject wraps the light around him, and the combination of angle and grid keeps it from spilling onto the backdrop. The extreme softness of the light is why the tiger casts no shadow on the backdrop. I used the grid because he's white and against white paper, and I wanted him to stand out. There is also a speedlite behind him giving him a subtle rimlight:


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Here is the setup. I waited until after dark to actually take the shot, so there was no contribution from the windows on the left.


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KatManDEW
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Feb 26, 2016 20:15 |  #14

Thank you everyone! I really appreciate it.




  
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echelonphoto
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Mar 07, 2016 16:08 as a reply to  @ KatManDEW's post |  #15

These are all great suggestions....I have another one that has work very well for me. Instead of shooting directly into a wall or background...have your subject stand at an angle to the wall...so your key light is actually skimming along the wall...voila!...no shadow! I once had to use as a background a very shiny light marble wall (like in an old bank)...I just placed my setup at a 30 degree angle to the wall...and ...no shadows and no shiny glare off the marble...looked like a painted backdrop.




  
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Shadows behind subjects with flash
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