This method takes thirty seconds. And as long as you have photoshop, you can make a regular white sheet backdrop look like a studio photoshoot.
First let’s show you what we are doing here. Our aim is to get a photo like this one:
He’s so cute. I love those big ole eyes. But that’s not really the point. The point here is to get a photo that looks like it has the white background (like in a studio) without actually being in a studio or having an expensive backdrop. I do this by using a white sheet and Photoshop. Like I’ve said before, I use the CS4 version of photoshop but this method is pretty much the same even if you have only Elements. So here is the step by step method I use to get the white background.
First you want to set up your subject on your sheet. I drape my white twin sized sheet over my deck railing and then down in front of Will. I usually take photos outside and in the shade, so it is a good idea to wait till the sun isn’t directly on your giraffe.
Here is my SOOC shot (straight-out-of-camera shot):
Pretty SHABBY. Not really exposed the best but I had a limited amount of time…only about the length of Baby Einstein’s Mozart video to wardrobe change and shoot a cranky baby five different times. And you can definitely tell that the sheet is in the background…not even an ironed sheet…just a regular ole wrinkled sheet…straight outta the linen closet.
So the first thing I did after downloading it was to open it in Photoshop. Then I went to Layer/New/Layer via Copy.
After my new layer is opened up, (make sure LAYER 1 is highlighted, not BACKGROUND) I went to Image/Adjustments/Brightness Contrast.
When the little Brightness/Contrast window opens, you are gonna adjust the settings by sliding the little nobbies to the right until the background looks pretty white around your subject. Don’t worry about washing out your main attraction…that doesn’t matter right now. You are focused on getting that background clean looking. Click ok when your sheet is looking more like a backdrop.
After your photo is adjusted, it should look something like this one below. Again…make sure your LAYER 1 is still highlighted. So now take your little mouse arrow and go down to the bottom right hand corner and click on the little dark grey box with the white circle on it. You just created a layer mask.
Now with that layer mask, you are going to select the paintbrush and the color BLACK.
Now color in with black where you want it to be NOT washed out. Basically, you are ERASING the bright white. I like to have a little shadow right around my subject…that way it doesn’t look like I traced him and cut him out and pasted him on a white background. See below how I left a little sheet and shadow evident around the pumpkin and Will’s hands?
Now flatten all layers of your image.
Okay…now that this is done, you can do your regular editing. With this one I lightened the entire image twice, warmed it up, brought out his eyes (here’s a tutorial on how to do that), and sharpened the little booger. These are all Pioneer Woman actions that are available for free on her blog (here is the link to download set 1).
And there we have it…one fully edited image that only took thirty seconds. Here is the before and after:
Now if you really want to get crazy, you could always erase the little blue sheet marks up above his head. But I wasn’t that picky. But if you are, just go for it. Now go grab a white sheet (and if you are like me, avoid the avalanche in your linen closet), and your camera and get to those ‘studio shots’. You might want to practice on an inanimate object first. Unless you have Baby Einstein…in that case, shoot away!
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments and I will do my best to answer them in the next couple days, ok? Or if you are a photoshopper and know the answer, feel free to help out a sistah or brotha in trouble 🙂