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How to Remove Shadows from Photos in Photoshop

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Have you ever ruined a shot because you accidentally captured your own shadow? Photoshop can help you remove shadows from photos – shadows of yourself or other objects.
Here are a few fast and easy ways to remove shadows from photos.

How to Remove Shadows From Photos

Photoshop has a range of tools available for this task. These are my two favourite tools for the job.
First, I will remove the shadow of a tree on the right side of this photo with the Patch tool.
A travel photography shot of tourists standing outside ancient ruins, with unwanted shadows

Using the Patch Tool to Remove Shadows

Step 1: Open and Duplicate the Background

Open the photo and right click on the background layer. Select ‘Duplicate Layer…’
This will allow you to edit your photos without destroying the original image.
A screenshot of using the Patch Tool to remove shadows from photos in Photoshop - duplicate background layer

Step 2: Select the Patch Tool

Select the Patch tool from the tool bar on the left.
A screenshot of using the Patch Tool to remove shadows from photos in Photoshop - select the patch tool
Make sure to select ‘Content-Aware‘ in the Patch dropdown menu.
By doing this, Photoshop will help you by creating new pixels. This will make transitions as smooth as possible.
A screenshot of using the Patch Tool to remove shadows from photos in Photoshop - content aware

Step 3: Remove the Shadow

Make a selection of the shadow you want to remove.
A screenshot of using the Patch Tool to remove shadows from photos in Photoshop - making a selection of the shadow you want to remove
Drag the selection to an area that looks similar. In my case, I need an area with sand. While dragging, you can see the selected area change.
Let go when you’re satisfied with the area you’ve chosen and Photoshop will smoothen it out.
A screenshot of using the Patch Tool to remove shadows from photos in Photoshop - making a selection of the shadow you want to remove
This is the result.
The final travel photography image after removing shadows in Photoshop

Using the Clone Stamp Tool to Remove Shadows

The Clone Stamp tool is perfect when you want more control over what you do, when removing shadows from photos. Try both if you’re not sure which one will get the best results.
I will use the Clone Stamp to remove the shadow on the left.
A travel photography shot of a man walking on sand with 4 black cows

Step 1: Open and Duplicate

Repeat Step 1 from the Patch tool technique.

Step 2: Select the Clone Stamp Tool

Click on the clone stamp tool in the toolbar on the left.
A screenshot of using the Clone Stamp Tool to remove shadows from photos in Photoshop - Select the Clone Stamp Tool
Pick a soft medium sized brush.
A soft brush will get you the best result because of the smooth edges.
A screenshot of using the Clone Stamp Tool to remove shadows from photos in Photoshop - Selecting a medium sized brush

Step 2: Select the Clone Source

Next, we need to select the pixels we will use to remove the shadow from the photo. Move the cursor to the area you want to take pixels from. I need sand again.
Use Alt-click to confirm the source pixels. The cursor will change into crosshairs.
A screenshot of using the Clone Stamp Tool to remove shadows from photos in Photoshop - Select a clone source
The moment you click, the cursor will change and show the pixels you’ve selected.

Step 3: Remove the Shadow From the Photo

Zoom in and start painting over the shadow you want to remove.
A screenshot of using the Clone Stamp Tool to remove shadows from photos in Photoshop - Remove the shadow
For the best result, use different clone sources to cover the shadow. If it doesn’t look natural, go back and take pixels from another part of the photo and paint again.
It’s important to avoid patterns like this:
A screenshot of using the Clone Stamp Tool to remove shadows from photos in Photoshop - Avoiding patterns
These patterns are a tell tale sign of cloning and removing an object or shadow from a photo.
Repeat until it looks natural. If you want to go a few steps back in Photoshop, use undo. Cmd + Z in Mac OS or Ctrl + Z in Windows.

Conclusion

It’s easy to remove shadows from photos in Photoshop and there are a lot of tools available.
Always try out different techniques to find out which one works best for you. Make sure to avoid patterns to get a natural result.
And don’t forget to duplicate the background layer. You don’t want to lose the original photo.

 

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