When a photographer drops a new element into a composite photograph, one of the biggest challenges is using shadows to create believable depth to the image. This video from Colin Smith at PhotoshopCAFE helps make that task easier by breaking down the process into four simple parts.
Using a couple of stock images, Smith shows viewers how the direction, quality, and quantity of light will all affect the look of the shadows in your image. While he concentrates adding the shadows themselves, it's important to note that if you are adding a new element to an image, it's critical to select images with matching (or at least similar) light sources. It's going to be nearly impossible to convincingly add a side-lit portrait of dad to a family photo taken outdoors at noon while the sun is shining straight down.
Once you have selected images with similar shadows, you can go about following Smith's tutorial for adding shadows to your new element.
Make sure to watch all the through the video for the fourth tip, because the blur added at the end is essential to creating a believable shadow. I hadn't used the field blur tool when adding shadows before seeing this video, and it's a handy trick to create a convincing composite.
What tricks are in your Photoshop toolbag for adding shadows to an image? Leave a comment below and share your best techniques.