Poor shadow detail can be a real problem when shooting high-contrast photos – especially if your subject is backlit and you’re exposing for the highlights. It’s possible to ‘bracket’ your exposures and combine multiple images taken with different settings in Photoshop to get the exposure spot on, but if your subject might move, even slightly, that’s not an option.
Fortunately, there’s more than one solution to the problem of poor shadow detail. Here are some of the best ways to add a little light into your images’ dark, shadow areas, and reveal hidden detail that will instantly illuminate even the trickiest of shots.
How to add shadow detail to high-contrast photos
Step 1: Use a reflector
Bouncing light from a reflector into areas of shadow will help to reveal detail and reduce contrast in your shots. Simply hold the reflector so that direct light falls onto it, then angle it to bounce light back onto your subject.
Step 2: Add a burst of fill-flash
A pop-up or external flash is great for creating fill-in light when using semi-auto or manual shooting modes. You may need to use flash exposure compensation to reduce the fill light if the subject now appears too light.
SEE MORE: Master fill flash in four easy steps
Step 3: Rescue in Adobe Camera Raw
If you weren’t able to fix the problem at the time of shooting, the shadow areas of your picture can be rescued later. If you use Adobe Camera Raw or similar software, use the Fill Light slider to increase detail in the shadows.
Creative landscape photography: master the dark art of shadows and shade
How to expose for landscapes: every question answered
Outdoor photography: how to make the most of golden hour light
See the light like a pro: everything you were afraid to ask about natural light