The Shadows Know

by | Jun 27, 2021

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

The weed of crime bears bitter fruit—The Shadow aka Lamont Cranston

For many photographers it’s really the shadows that can make or break a photograph but sometimes the results may be a bit more shadowy than we might prefer. Lamont Cranston used mind control taught to him by monks in Lhasa, but we have lots of other kinds of options starting with the highlight and shadow controls that’s available in many mirrorless cameras, including Olympus.


If there is no shadow control in your mirrorless camera or DSLR, as with the Canon EOS 5D Mark I below shows, but you can use the Contrast controls to lower the contrast and “open up” the shadows to reveal more detail. The downside is that sensor noise is more likely found in shadow areas than mid-tones. So what’s a poor hippo to do?

contrast2Adobe Photoshop can control shadows and sometimes highlights too. While all of these tools can be used to almost complete eliminate shadows giving the image a flat and boring look, I prefer to use them to open up detail that might otherwise be lost and sculpt shadows and to create shape and dimension. One of the great power tools that are available for this is the Vivenza plug-in.


Barry Staver and Joe Farace are co-authors of Better Available Light Digital Photography that may be an oldie but, I think anyway, that it’s a goodie. New copies are $21.49 with used copies starting for less than nine bucks from Amazon. No Kindle version is available, sorry.