How to Save those Shadows: Photography Tip

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: April 28, 2016

Category: Photography

Monday and Tuesday this week I was away on a 2 day corporate shoot for Eight Wealth Management in Hampshire, and being assisted by my great friend Brian Worley aka Mr Canon.

Was a great couple of days; the first being on location in their offices and the second in a hired studio space, and like any and every photo shoot it came with it’s own challenges but with a little creative thinking solutions were soon thought up.

Today I thought I’d share with you one of those solutions that saved the shoot on day 2.

Ok so on day 2 I was photographing the group shots. We’d discussed at length the style of shots we wanted which resulted in a studio space being hired and a removal company bringing along various items of furniture so that we could arrange a set.

The studio that had been hired was a great space; all white walls, infinity cove and turntable as the main work photographed in here is cars. At first the space could be thought of as an ideal blank canvas that we could make into what we wanted however having all white walls did cause issues.

The lighting I was going for was cross lighting and due to the number of people in the group this was made up of two Elinchrom Rotalux Octa’s being used; the 175cm and 135cm, positioned next to each other to create what was in effect a very large light source (see diagram below)

The lights were positioned far enough away from the subjects being photographed so as to take advantage of the Inverse Square Law which meant when metering the light, from the left hand side of the frame to the right hand side, there was just 1 stop difference.


What I love about cross lighting is the shadow / light pattern it creates on your subject making the images (in my opinion) much more interesting, and giving them depth and dimension. However no matter where and how we positioned the light sources and the subjects, light would reflect off the white walls and fill in the shadows created by the octa’s and so make everything look very flat and uninteresting.

As luck would have it there were two white poly boards in the corner of the studio which we covered with lengths of the black seamless roll I’d brought along (just in case) and held in place with gaffe tape.

These two boards were then propped up against the studio wall on the opposite side of the octa’s and just out of frame.



Result? The light from the octa’s was stopped dead in it’s tracks as it hit the now black boards and so didn’t bounce back onto our subjects, which then resulted in the shadows being visible.

Looking at the two pictures below showing the initial test/set up shots prior to photographing the clients:

  1. Shows how the reflected light reduces, in fact as good as completely removes any shadow on the right hand camera side of Brian’s head.
  2. With the black board in place the shadows on the right hand camera side of Brian’s head are clearly visible.


Simple and very effective solution thanks to having the black roll with us (I always bring lots and lots of kit to a shoot…just incase)


The images from this shoot have yet to be worked on (this group shot will be having a new background, floor and lighting effects added in post production) but I thought I’d share this with you in the mean time should you ever find yourself in a similar situation.

Catch you next time

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  1. Anthony Crothers

    Excellent, for me this is two solutions! I’ve had challenges when shooting family groups in eliminating shadows, so I now know how to avoid that! Also, great solution to get cross-lighting, back of the net!

    • Glyn Dewis

      Thanks Buddy; glad you like it 😉

  2. Ron FYA

    From my video projects I learned to always have with be a 3×6 meters duvetyne blanket/sheet and clamps for those cases.
    It is more portable that seamless paper and reusable endlessly 😀
    Also great to tame reverb when recording sound.



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