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How Do Real Estate Photographers Eliminate Shadows from Ceiling Fans?

Published: 13/02/2018
By: larry

Steven in New Jersey asks:

How do I eliminate the upward light shadow caused by ceiling fan blades onto the ceiling?

Rich Baum explains in the video tutorial to the right how to remove the shadow in Photoshop.

But you can also quickly and easily eliminate ceiling fan shadows by the way you position multiple off-camera flashes. Scott Hargis's e-book, The Essential Guide to Lighting Interiors has a whole chapter on eliminating shadows from ceiling fans and other dangling things by flash placement.

9 comments on “How Do Real Estate Photographers Eliminate Shadows from Ceiling Fans?”

  1. It’s very easy. Use a difusser in front of the flash (the kind that is flat, not a dome or box) and either have the flash point upwards or slightly back. The small white card in the flash will usually do the trick. If your flash doesn’t have one, they are very inexpensive to buy.
    I use one like this for my Godox AD200’s. https://smile.amazon.com/pangshi-Two-Sides-Diffuser-Reflector-Speedlite/dp/B00NV3DE8I/ref=sr_1_10?s=photo&ie=UTF8&qid=1518524067&sr=1-10&keywords=flash+diffuser

  2. Another reason I don't use flash. But if you do, you need to soften the light so the shadows don't have a crisp edge and/or gobo off the light from the ceiling so the flash does not light the fan and the surrounding ceiling.

  3. Put a length of self-stick Velcro around the speedlight head about 1” from the flash. Stick the other side of the Velcro to a piece of black vinyl that’s sized so that it rises above the flash about 1 3/4” on three sides.

    This will allow you to bounce off the ceiling without the flash hitting the ceiling fan. It works better then the built-in card, because light can spill around that card and still hit the fan or anything that isn’t centered in the card’s path. Sometimes there are other items on the ceiling (track lighting, fixtures, smoke alarms) and they’re not all going to fall in a line.

  4. Hi everyone,

    I guess I should comment on my own question. I have always used SB series Nikon flashes with no issues. I have always bounced the light up to the ceiling. Recently I purchased a bare bulb flash and decided to take the difusser off. I love the full spread of light and even balance in the picture. In most rooms it's not an issue. It wasn't until a shoot the other day where I noticed the shadow. As I was driving home it hit me, I was pushing light forward not up. Today I am going to put the difusser back on and see what happens. I may take the flash off camera at some point and raise it up a bit. And switching to my SB for room shots with a fan is also an option. The last thing I want it to create more post production work.

  5. The easiest and most effective is to use the flash off camera and bounce the light from the flash off the wall behind you, but the secret is to move the flash as far as possible away from the wall. By moving it away from the wall, you're effectively increasing your light source (wall behind you) and the bounced light from the flash will travel around the ceiling fan and lamp shades. If you put the off camera flash on a lightweight tripod or light stand, you will have more control of where you want to bounce the light from the flash. This method is described in Scott Hargis' book Lighting Interiors (link to the top left of this page). Moving the flash away from the wall is the secret to success. Doing some tests by moving the flash closer and further away from wall will clearly demonstrate how easy it is to eliminate the shadows around ceiling fans and lamp shades and will save some time during processing. If you haven't gone off camera with your flash, you would need a remote trigger, in which case I would recommend the Yongnuo RF 603 mark II (You would need 2). They are cheap and mine is still going after a few years. (not sure if they are still available).

  6. All of the above are good but works best for me is to flip the flash head around so it's aiming behind you. You may have to increase the power but the shadows disappear.

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