A fellow photographer and friend of mine, Martin, commented that he doesn’t shoot in the studio because his imagination is stunted by its limitations. It certainly makes you concentrate on the lighting and particular styling for an image, especially if your studio is smallish and doesn’t allow for some set building. Up until now the cutting out of a subject has been extremely time consuming and so we have avoided cutting out and replacing backgrounds.
CS5 certainly changes all that with it’s edge refining tool. One is only limited by one’s imagination and your texture data base. There are a lot of textures available on the net and for free. My preference is to use my own. The need to carry the camera around all the time just to get some new and different textures has given me more reason to learn every feature of my camera.
If you always remember you can adjust your intake of light in three ways….aperture, shutter speed and the one that most forget or are afraid to use, the ISO. In fact when you are looking at textures one often wants grain or noise. By taking more with the higher ISOs gives you the chance to see what grains you can achieve for other things.
This is the example I am using today, I am going to give a few tips on how to achieve good results but I cannot go into detail without videoing it and haven’t got the time or facilities for that. The other night we had a beautiful night sky and I ran out with my camera and took a number of images. You will find a few on Flickr if you want to use them. I was going to reject this one until I remembered that I had a shot of Donatella that would suit this perfectly and make it look as if she was coming out of somewhere after doing who knows what.
Unfortunately it was a black on black image,if you are going to cut out for the first time chose black against white, so much easier. But what the heck we need a challenge.
Open both sunset and Donatella studio shot in photoshop. I use the images produced after some editing in the Raw Editor. I do not do any skin or contrast adjments on the Donatella image at this stage as it is easier to match the tones of the background when it is revealed.
Select All of Sunset Image and copy. Move over to Donatella image and paste. The sunset image will go over Donatell. So Copy the base layer and move on top of Sunset. You don’t have to play with the texture layer yet.
Select top Donatella layer and using quick select tool. Now you eventually want to select just the subject but I have found with the more difficult black on black that if you select the background first, use the edge refine tool, return having chosen selection, then inverse and repeat, the tool seems to work better. It is an extra step but works for me.
The tool gives you several ways to view the possible results, don’t be afraid to use them all. Looking at the result on the new layer obviously shows you exactly what it will look like. Here I have shown what my selection was.
Click OK having selected the new layer and mask option and it is time to get down and dirty to clean up the mask.
Use the paintbrush on the mask, using either white to remove the background or black to retrieve it. It is important that you keep in mind that you can change the opacity and the brush intensity, zooming in to work on the editing points.
These are the sort of areas you should be looking to clean up
And this is what it should look like, or better
Having refined the mask to your satisfaction select the Sunset layer and move it about until it matches the composition you desire. In this case I also selectively increase the saturation of the layer and used a small amount of Gaussian Blur.
Once I have established the look of the background and the tones, I then work on the masked subect image. I use Imaginotronics for my skin re-touching if needed the selectively use the colour balance and curves to balance the two images.
Crop and sharpen. This is the final image. Not perfect but I keep practising
This is another example
And another, this one the texture layer was used twice both in front and behind the subjects mask and image. Another mask was applied to the top texture layer which I attempted to blend. You are the judge as to how I did. Come on, join in, I need some feedback.
And the last of the day