For many photographers it’s really the shadows that 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 options starting with the highlight and shadow that’s available in the Olympus E-M1 mirrorless cameras.
If there is no shadow control in your SLR, as with the Canon EOS 5D 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?
Nowadays we have Adobe Photoshop to control shadows and sometimes highlights too. While all of these tools featured 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 for this is the Vivenza plug-in.
For more on the importance of shadows, please read my blog post comparing how shadows are used in classic films, like The Third Man.