Botanical Health Warning: The delicate petals of the flower can be cooked, frazzled or fried by the heat of a tungsten lamp in just a few minutes. Be prepared to work quickly or use soft window light as a low-temperature alternative.
Duplicate the background layer by dragging the layer to the ‘New Layer’ icon in the layers palette. Don’t worry if the edges of your white paper are in the frame. Just be sure to capture the subject and its shadow.
Note: The surface used does not have to be white, but should be relatively texture-free. This will avoid mismatched textures when the shadow is transported to its new home.
The initial steps in this tutorial aim to reduce the background tone to white and leave the shadows intact. The fall-off of light from the directional light source (the white background gradually becoming grey on the side furthest from the light) can be balanced using an adjustment layer. Select the ‘Default Foreground and Background Colors’, ‘Quick Mask Mode’ and the ‘Gradient Tool’ in the ‘Tools Palette’. Select the ‘Linear Gradient’ and the ‘Foreground to Transparent’, or ‘Foreground to Background’ option in the ‘Options’ bar. Drag a gradient from the brighter side of the image to the darker side of the image. A gradient in the default masking color will appear. Exit Quick Mask mode to reveal the resulting selection.
Alternative approach for Photoshop and Elements users > Adobe Elements users should proceed to the next step and create a gradient directly in the Layer Mask.