How to Remove a Shadow From a Picture

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Sometimes when you are shooting in bright sunlight, you might capture shadows in your pictures. This can happen with both beginners and professionals. The shadow might ruin the whole photo unless you know how to remove a shadow from a picture.

How to Remove a Shadow From a Picture

You can remove a shadow from a picture using Lightroom tools such as presets, sliders, and color grading. Also, you can use Photoshop to achieve this as well as some apps designed specifically for removing shadows.

An image of a woman editing photos

Use Lightroom

Lightroom is one of the best apps out there to edit pictures. It has many tools that can be used to remove shadows from a picture. These tools range from simple presets and global adjustment sliders to more specific tools such as the adjustment brush.

Apply Presets

The very first thing that you should do in Lightroom is try out the various presets. Presets are filters that have preadjusted settings. They can allow you to make quick changes to your pictures. If the shadow is not very dark, a simple preset can make it go away. Follow these steps to add a preset:

  1. Go to the preset tab.
  2. Select a preset from many choices, ideally looking for one that increases shadows.
  3. Apply it to your image.

To remove shadows, you should look for a preset that brightens the image a bit and reduces the intensity of shadows, without over exposing it. If you cannot find one, trial and error might help.

Adjust the Sliders

The sliders, also known as the global adjustment sliders, can help you make changes to your photo. They include exposure, shadow, contrast, and highlights and can help you remove shadows.

  1. If the shadow is not very extreme, just slide the shadow slider to the right and up to +100. However, this step might increase the noise in the image.
  2. If this does not fix your problem or makes it worse then you should go for the exposure and highlight sliders. First move the highlighter slider towards the left. Normally the Highlighter slider is used to bring out the details in the brightest parts of the image. However, it might help you here.
  3. To balance out the effects of the Highlighter slider, you can move the exposure slider to the right. This will bring the darkest and brightest parts of your image closer and will decrease the effects of the shadows in your image.

Make Local Adjustments

Normally, global adjustment sliders are more than enough to fix the problem of shadows in the image. However, there are a few times when the shadows are more apparent in some parts of the image than others. This is where you make local adjustments, which you can do using an adjustment brush. Follow these steps to make local adjustments:

  1. Choose the brush and increase the highlights slider to the right to +100. Make sure that the auto mask is ticked and choose a brush size that fits the area of the shadow.
  2. Now, turn on the overlay start painting the areas. It will start highlighting those areas with a red color.
  3. Turn off the overlay and you will be able to see the results. If you are unsure, there is an option at the bottom that allows you to see the results with and without the adjustment brush edits.
  4. You can make other adjustments such as exposure and temperature if needed.
An image on how to remove a shadow from a picture

Range Mask

You can use the range mask in conjunction with the adjustment brush. After following the steps above, apply the range mask by following these steps:

  1. With the area already highlighted, you can turn on the range mask and go to luminance.
  2. Move the right slider on the range towards the left.

This tool ensures that your highlights are not brightened up (that may happen due to exposure).

Apply Color Grading

Making adjustments through the global adjustment slider and the adjustment brush may have changed the overall tone of the image. There is a chance that your image might look slightly orange. You can fix the attributes of an image through color grading, just follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Develop panel. Under the HSL panel, you will find the color grading panel.
  2. Work on the highlights wheel and choose a certain color that has impacted the whole image (usually the color of the sky).
  3. You can reduce its saturation by moving the saturation slider to the left. It will reduce the orangey or any other color tone of the image.
  4. Lastly, adjust the blending slider to improve how the colors connect with other colors.

Use Photoshop

Besides Lightroom, another option is Photoshop.  There are simple tools such as the Patch Tool that can help you get rid of shadows. Follow these steps to remove a shadow:

  1. Open the picture and duplicate the background.
  2. Choose the Patch Tool from the toolbar on the left. Choose the “Content Aware” option in the Patch drop down list.
  3. Make a selection of the area of shadow that you want to remove.
  4. Drag that area over to a similar area. This will change the “shadow” area that you had selected. Photoshop will automatically smooth the area out.

If the results do not satisfy you, you can make some adjustments. In the Patch toolbar you have two options: Color and Structure. Color will allow you to determine how many colors you want to blend. Structure will determine how you want Photoshop to match the shapes.

Use Local Apps

While Photoshop and Lightroom give you a lot more flexibility on how you want to edit your pictures, there are some apps that further ease the process. One of them includes Photo Works. Download the app on your computer and open the picture on your app. Then follow these steps:

An image of a woman thinking to edit photo
  1. On the right you will see a “retouch” tab. Click on it.
  2. Click on the healing brush. Adjust the size of the brush according to your preference.
  3. Then paint over the area you want to change.
  4. Adjust the opacity and feather settings to change the intensity of the brush’s effect.
  5.  Lastly, apply the changes. This tool will ensure that the shadows are removed.

Using Photoworks and similar apps is very convenient as they allow you to make edits on particular parts of the image. Also, you just have to move the brush over the area, and the shadows will be removed. This makes the process extremely simple to use.

Related Questions

What Sort of Lighting Will Create the Fewest Shadows?

Flat lighting will create the fewest shadows in images. This light comes from the same level and direction as the camera. These can include the flash from the camera itself, as well as the windows behind the camera. This kind of lighting is widely used in fashion photography.

Other types of lighting such as butterfly lighting and loop lighting create more shadows, so avoid those if you are looking to minimize shadows

Why Is There a Shadow in My Picture?

There is a shadow in your picture because during flash photography, the flash can be blocked by the lengthy lens or hood on the lens. This causes a dark shadow on the bottom parts of the image. Other reasons might include poor angle of light, and harsh sunlight when shooting outdoors.


Shooting in certain situations such as harsh sunlight during midday can cause shadows in certain parts of your image. These can be removed through the use of various tools in Lightroom such as presets, range masks, and color grading. Besides Lightroom, Photoshop and other apps can be used for this purpose too.