Try This Shadow Fix on Your Next Interior Shoot

Try This Shadow Fix on Your Next Interior Shoot

When photographing interiors, flash is your friend, but a friend who needs some management. While flash brightens rooms, reduces glare, and brings out true colors, it can also produce the frustrating issue of ugly shadows.

Working with flash - event several flashes at once - you will almost always encounter the issue of flash casting a shadow somewhere on the first lighting test run.

For this easy work-around, I'll use the example of an interior kitchen photo in which the flash creates shadows behind bar chairs. This is the same scenario Mike Kelley uses in his tutorial videos which cover many other useful workflows and provide useful tips.

This process uses the technique of masking multiple frames, so there's no need to get everything in one exposure. When creating multiple frames, make sure you know how to composite correctly.

Since most key lights for interiors will be coming from above, downward-angled shadows can appear on images like the one below.

An interior architectural image of a luxury kitchen showing shadows caused by flash

The lighting is even for the most part, but notice the shadows between the chairs and island, as well as in the open pantry.

Let's first tackle the shadow coming from the chairs lit from behind and above. If you place a speedlight flat on the floor facing the chairs at low power, you will create an extra frame to blend in later, one creating no shadows in this area.

a behind-the-scenes interior image where a kitchen island is lit and nothing else

This is the frame you will blend in later to fill in the shadows on the underside of the kitchen island.

For the shadows behind the island and in the closet, you can use a similar approach as the above frame, but be careful not to overdo it with the direct flash. If you can bounce it off the ceiling, your results will look softer.

The before image of a before-and-after showing the effect of lighting on an interior photoThe finished result of an interior image of a luxury kitchen

However, there’s no need to blast flash on everything. Since there will naturally be window light creating soft shadows in interiors, use ambient (non-flash) exposures to bring a little bit of shadow back in and keep everything looking realistic.

This trick is adapted from the second installment of Mike Kelley's “Where Art Meets Architecture” video series, available in the Fstoppers Store.

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