White Seamless Tutorial :: Part 4 :: Simple Changes In Post Production.
For part four we are going to look at making simple changes to our photos in post production. We are going to change the composition of our photos shot on pure white or pure black. We will also look at a way to add some color back into the background on the images shot on pure white.
The first thing we are going to do is change our composition. When I’m shooting on a pure white or pure black background, I shoot 95% of those images vertically. I fill the frame with my subject as much as I can. I want to maximize the image area they take on the sensor of my camera so that I have more options for enlarging the photo later if I want. If I want a lot of negative space in the final photo, I’ll add that in Photoshop later because it is easy to create white or black space and still have a full frame of the subject. Imagine the area of your camera’s sensor for a moment with the photo above on it as it is captured…
That is a lot of dead space thrown away on your chip. You can maximize the captured resolution of your subject by filling the frame.
There are two simple ways of expanding your photo to change the composition. You can change the canvas size or you can use the crop tool. I prefer the crop tool because it lets me visualize the new composition I’m trying to create. For the example below I want to deliver the vertical full frame shot to the client and I want to deliver a horizontal shot as well. I’m going to keep them set to the same dimensions by locking in my aspect ratio then flipping the width and height numbers. See the photo below.
The crop tool options can be blank if you want so you can free form a crop. Here are the step to expanding it.
1. Make sure the photo is a locked “background” layer.
2. Set the BG color swatch to pure white.
3. Select the crop tool and pull it out over the image. It will not pull out beyond the edges of the photo. Once you hit an edge of the photo LET GO of the mouse button. Some bounding box tick marks will show up on your crop rectangle.
4. Grab one of those bounding box tick marks and begin to pull the crop out past your original image.
5. Once you have the composition you want, hit enter or return to apply the crop. Since your BG swatch is set to white it will become the color of whatever is beyond your original image after it is cropped. Its magic and stuff!
From looking at the next image, you would think I have a massive studio space.
This is how it was done.
Again, the original image was shot vertically to get the most bang for the buck out of my sensor…
We can do the same thing with images shot on a PURE black background.
Going through the same steps as above, I have now just changed the BG color swatch to black instead of white. I have also moved the light source around a bit.
I made a selection around the light then used the move tool to drag it around. With the BG swatch still set to black, it doesn’t make a “hole” in the photo when you move it.
Here again is the final frame after about 20 seconds of work in Photoshop.
That’s the simple simple stuff. Now we’ll add just one more layer to the pure white image to change it up a bit more… I sit with my clients and walk them through a series of changes. I let them know they are getting an image shot vertically but with some simple changes it can go to a larger vertical image for a concert poster or it can go to a horizontal image for a promo card or CD artwork. Here is another thing I show my clients that can change the overall look of the original image. Let’s make a square crop like we are doing CD artwork or something. Here is the original image as shot in camera.
I’ve cropped the image to a square, turned the image into an unlocked layer, and added a new layer underneath the image. I’m going to be making a radial gradient fill on the new layer UNDER the photo.
Turn the photo layer off and select the new layer you made under it. I’ve made my gradient fill and stretched it out a bit. I want a soft white under my subject.
I go back to the photo layer and select it and turn it back on. Then I change the layer blending mode to “multiply”. Anything that is pure white will drop out and the color from behind will show through.
It looks like this.
You can change the color, density, and saturation of this type of gradient fill with levels, curves, hue/saturation, etc. Here is a change up to the bottom layer with hue/saturation.
Here is the image with this change.
This isn’t the way to just drop a subject into a whole new location. You have to get into some layer masking and a few more steps to do something like that. These are just some simple steps to show you how to change things up a bit for images you want to make for your clients or promotional images you need to make for yourself. You can create the perfect amount of negative space to add logos, text, etc. If you are into textures you can then start adding those into some of these steps as well. Using the multiply mode on white backgrounds opens up new possibilities for you. Note – It doesn’t work the same on images with a black background.
For the next post, I’ll show a few lighting options you can have when shooting on pure white backgrounds. After that I’ll have a post asking for questions you may have. I’ll also be going through all the comments on this tutorial so far and answering those questions in one single post.
Then we are going to have a contest! If you are starting to shoot this stuff or have been, you can now begin adding your images to the Seamless & Cyc Flickr pool I have started. Let’s see how creative you get. I’ve filled up the pool with my visual pollution to get it started. You add the rest. I’ll have prizes for first, second, and third place. I’ll give you details on it coming up soon. Add your images that have been shot with any of the techniques we have discussed here when using a simple white background. If you are just using a white wall to start you can post those as well.
ETA – If you have questions about any of this, drop them in the comment section here on Part 5 of the tutorial. I will be following up on this tutorial with a new post answering all the questions at once.