Did you ever take a picture of someone, and you think it looks great, but later you realize there are shadows on their face? This happens to me all the time. Luckily, we can fix this problem in just a few easy steps.
Step 0: Downloading the Image
For this tutorial, we’ll be using this lovely, but shadowy, portrait.
In addition to this written tutorial, you can also watch our video tutorial on removing shadows from an image.
Step 1: Curves
To brighten the photo, we need to apply a Curves adjustment layer. The shortcut for this is Command M (Mac) or Control M (PC), or you can apply a Curves adjustment by pressing the Adjustment icon.
Click and drag on the middle of the white line in the Dialog Box. This line is called the Spline.
Bringing up the Spline will brighten the whole photo.
Step 2: Paint It On
The shadow has now been removed, but the whole picture is too bright now.
Invert the adjustment by pressing Command I (Mac) or Control I (PC).
Now we can paint the Curves adjustment onto the specific parts of the photo we want brightened.
Select the Paint Brush Tool, and adjust its size by pressing the bracket keys underneath the equal sign on your keyboard.
Check the Color Panel to make sure you’re painting in white. Also, change your brush to 0% Hardness from the Context Toolbar.
Paint the adjustment onto the woman’s face.
Step 3: Blend Ranges
At this point, the woman’s face is looking a little too bright, because we’re currently brightening all parts of her face. To fix this, we’ll use Blend Ranges.
We only want to brighten the shadows, not the highlights.
Make sure you still have the Curves Adjustment selected in the Layers Panel, and then press the Gear icon.
To apply the adjustment to just the shadows, take the handle on the far right, and drag it all the way to the bottom of the graph.
With this same technique, you can easily remove shadows from any photo.