How to Remove a Tripod Shadow Using Affinity Photo

by Robin WhalleyApr 12, 2022Photo Editing Tutorials

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How to Remove a Tripod Shadow Using Affinity Photo

We’ve all had that experience of finding a great composition with beautiful light, only to have our shadow fill the foreground. In this article, I’ll explain my two-step approach to removing an unwanted shadow from a photo using Affinity Photo.

Step 1 – Minimise Your Shadow

The first step is an obvious but often overlooked one. You need to minimise your shadow in the photo. The smaller your shadow, the less area you need to repair, and the easier it is to repair. Here’s an example showing both my and the tripod shadow.

Notice how much area needs to be replaced to remove the shadow. It doesn’t matter what method you use, minimising the area to repair is almost always beneficial.

In this example, a simple trick to minimise the shadow to remove is by moving out of the frame when you fire the camera shutter. You can do this easily using a remote shutter release for your camera. You can then line up the shot with the camera on a tripod before stepping to the side to take the photo.

Whilst some photographers don’t want to use a remote release, myself included, there are a couple of other options.

Remote Release Alternatives

Today, many cameras have a Bluetooth feature allowing you to pair the device with your smartphone. You can then use your phone as a viewing device and fire the camera shutter remotely.

The second option, and the one that I used in this situation, was to set the camera timer. By setting the timer, I could press the shutter and step to the left, leaving only the tripod shadow in the image.

Here’s another shot from the same location but this time with only the tripod shadow visible.

In this photo the shadow covers less area and will be much easier to remove.

Step 2: Remove the Tripod Shadow Using the Inpainting Brush

Now that we have only the thin legs of the tripod shadow to remove, we can use the Inpainting Brush tool in Affinity Photo. The Inpainting brush is perfect for this type of work, where there is a long thin area to remove. You will find the brush grouped with several other repair tools in the Affinity Photo tools palette on the left of the interface.

Click the Inpainting Brush Tool to select it and you will see its controls appear in the toolbar at the top of the interface.

Removing the Shadow Non-Destructively

As the Inpainting Brush will directly change the pixels of the layer where it’s used, we should start by adding a new layer to the image. You can do this in the Layer menu by selecting the New Layer option. A new empty layer is then added, which you will see in the Layers Studio Panel.

With the Inpainting brush selected, check the settings in the toolbar at the top of the interface. There you will find a dropdown list which you can use to select which layers to use when making the repair. It currently has two options which are “Current Layer” and “Current Layer & Below”.

You need to select the “Current Layer & Below” option. This tells Affinity Photo to sample the current layer and any layers below that in the image to make the repair to the shadow. It’s what allows us to remove the shadow non-destructively.

After that, check that the new layer is still selected in the Layers Studio Panel. It will be highlighted in blue if it is. If not, click it once to make the selection. This ensures you will make the repair onto the new layer and not the original image.

Now resize your brush to cover part of the tripod leg. To paint over the area to make a repair, click and hold down the mouse button whilst painting over a section of the tripod shadow at a time. As you paint, you will see the area turn red. When you release your mouse button, Affinity Photo makes a repair to that area, removing the unwanted shadow.

Here you can see a section of the tripod leg at the top has been removed using the Inpainting Brush. Below this you can see the red selection made with the Inpainting brush before the mouse button is released. Notice that it’s an irregular shape which can help to make the repair less obvious.

Completing the Tripod Shadow Removal

To complete the tripod shadow removal from the photo, it’s simply a matter or removing each section of the shadow in turn. You can see the entire process in this short video.

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Summary of Removing a Tripod Shadow from a Photo

The best way to remove an unwanted tripod shadow from a photo is with a two-step process. The first is to minimise the shadow in the frame and if possible have it fall on an area that’s easy to repair.

By only having the tripod shadow visible, it becomes easier to remove using the Affinity Photo Inpainting Brush. You only need to paint over small section of the tripod at a time and Affinity Photo will automatically make the repair.

If you would like to learn more and expand your Affinity Photo skills, consider my “Affinity Photo How To” book.

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