I'm editing an outdoor group photo for a friend and one of the people in the photo has a shadow across their face that I'd like to remove or at least diminish. The area of the face in the image is around 300 by 400 pixels. The face is fairly bright and the shadow is from a child sitting on their lap, so the line between regions is quite crisp. Complicating things a bit is that the source is a jpeg with a lot of compression artifacts. I realize it would probably be helpful to see the photo in question, but I'd prefer not to post it since it isn't mine. I can, however, provide additional information if needed.

I created a selection of the shadowed area and then tried some basic adjustments in the levels and curves panels. With these I can get the brightness to almost match the rest of the face, but the color of the region looks quite off. I also tried using the clone stamp with a low opacity and tried to paint over the shadowed area using the brighter part of the face, but I couldn't really get it to look very convincing.

What would be the best way to go about trying to remove or diminish the shadow?

Edit: I got permission to post the photo, but it was too large so I've cropped it down to the part I am trying to edit.

enter image description here

  • Without seeing the picture in question its really hard to say specifics. The curve adjustment would be the foundation. Not sure what you're doing wrong causing color issues though.
    – Ryan
    Sep 3, 2016 at 22:34
  • I concur. Need to see the image in order to be helpful.
    – DocPixel
    Sep 4, 2016 at 0:51
  • I figured it would be difficult without the photo. I got permissions to post the photo and have edited the original post. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
    – Pak
    Sep 4, 2016 at 16:52

2 Answers 2


enter image description here


The following picture has been edited with the sole purpose to trying to solve your problem. I apologise in advance if you feel like i messed up the lady face, as that wasn't the aim at all.

------------------------- Now the cool stuff -----------------

When i Read your post, saw the picture, and read @Ryan comment, the only answer i had in mind was "Naahh, that will mess up the picture really bad" ... Then I thought why not try to see if its actually possible, and there are the result.

Obviously it's a photography issue, and like i thought, dealing with it with curves adjustments, lighting the shadows, would be a complete dead end, as it will over expose the shadow part. According to my brother, this is not a problem of Lighting, but Coloring instead, you know what that means: "Painting". So using "The Brush tool" a lot, "Saturation adjustment layer", "Solid COlor Adjustment layer", A bit of "Exposure Adjustment layer", "Clone Stamping" "Mixer brush" a lot, "Noise filter" and "high pass offset", we managed to come up with this. Now obviously we used curves but only and only for final Color Correction, to give it hat old school feel, and to camouflage skin discoloration.

Like i said sorry if you feel like we messed up the picture. But it was definitely a good challenge as photographers who are into model photo retouching. And we can send you the picture if you want.

  • That looks quite remarkable. The only issue is that the the posted image is part of a larger photo, so the altered color would make it difficult to incorporate back into the original. If you'd be willing to share the PSD, I'd love to take a look at it to see if I can reproduce the results. Either way, thank you very much for taking the time to look into it and respond.
    – Pak
    Sep 5, 2016 at 1:18
  • Can you upvote my answer and mark the thing as solved please?
    – Codart
    Sep 5, 2016 at 1:51
  • Dowload the PSD here dropbox.com/s/4q06so2u1gfuyb0/Nsf5s.psd?dl=0
    – Codart
    Sep 5, 2016 at 1:53
  • Unfortunately, I don't have enough reputation to upvote yet. I was holding the "acceptance" thing hostage until you gave me the PSD (just kidding). Thanks again for the help. I look forward to trying this for myself.
    – Pak
    Sep 5, 2016 at 2:46

Another approach is to take non-shadowed snippets from the opposite side and warp them to fit. Here is used 3 snippets. They are duplicated and shown in the right.

enter image description here

I guess this method is usable only if you can keep the non-fixed version secret, no matter how many other persons the image contains. People often become angry if their portraits are fixed by others. Sometimes the image has really got worse but as often the person doesn't like his own look. Edits are a handy excuse to relieve ones frustration with a nice fit of rage.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.