Another Look at Shadows

/ in Shadows by Marek
Before and after, top down shot of a little dwarf moth with shadows removed
Out of the shadows and into the light

I have now almost completed the backlog of images from last year, I have a little more time for experimentation with a view to improving the quality of some of my displays. A good example of this is the Little Dwarf I was updating the other day.

Although the images already on the site were ok, I am currently in the process of attempting to make the background colour of my displays more consistent.

Also, I prefer the top shot and ruler shot to be of the same example which wasn’t the case with the original display.

Despite having taken a full set of shots from all angles of this moth on glass as well as with a grey background I felt that both top shots could be better, with the one recorded on glass being unusable.

The problem with the other was the heavy shadow cast on the right-hand side which spoilt, in my opinion, a good image so what follows is my attempt at correcting this.

The ideal situation would be taking the shot in an environment constructed in such a manner as to negate the possibility of shadows but unfortunately the nature of my photography does not lend to this very easily.

I know from experience that there is no way to successfully edit the shadow out or, in this case, even lighten it, so I considered a different approach.

If possible, I always try to take a shot of each moth with head up and head down as was the case here so decided to utilise this fact to remaster the image.

2x2 grid of top down images of a Little Dwarf moth showing the process I go through to remove shadows
The ups and downs of recording moths.

The first thing to do was to flip and mirror the heads down image, effectively moving the shadow to the opposite side thus leaving two almost identical images but with the shadow cast on opposite sides

This allowed me to cut and paste half on one image and place over the other removing the shadow almost completely.

2x2 grid of photos of the Little Dwarf moth showing the final steps of my processing
All spruced up and ready to go

The next part of the process is to repair the head by cloning it from the original and using the same method to disguise the join.

Once completed it was just a case of cleaning, sharpening slightly and correcting the overlap of wings at the bottom of the picture.

As I have not actually edited any significant part of the moth itself, it remains a good example, again in my opinion, just with the shadow removed.

I could have also removed the shadow cast by the antennae but felt this unnecessary as it does not affect the image of the moth in any way.

My hope for the future is to take perfect shots of moths in pristine conditions where the backgrounds are always the same, but until then I will have to continue working with what I have in my efforts to produce a book style record of the moths I see.