Oh yeah, remember that one time that I said I was going to devote Thursdays to photography?
But, I will try to do a few photo Thursdays here and there. And lucky you! Today is one of them.
After I posted the photoshoot of Sophie the other day, several of you asked what my backdrop set up is. I'm afraid you might not like the answer, but I will share my secrets anyway.
I don't have a backdrop set up.
Here is what I do have: Two kitchen chairs, a sliding glass door and a big old piece of BROWN fleece. Yes brown. Not black, much as I wish it were. And that's where Photoshop comes in.
So, I set up my chairs at a not quite 90 degree angle to the sliding glass door, and then drape my fleece over it, pose the kids and snap away. Here are some pictures of how it looks:
The other thing I often do is hang up my fleece in the garage. I use jumper cables and hang them to the garage door runner thingies. Basically, I just make do with what I have. But, I don't do any garage photoshoots in the middle of winter because everyone would be blue. I do like the larger space when it's warmer, though.
Now, I like (love) the look of the super black background. It is my favorite. Since the fleece I use is dark brown, it generally looks fairly black, but it does need some darkening in photoshop sometimes. I do this by using the clone stamp tool on color burn.
Here are the instructions for Photoshop Elements 5.0. I can't speak for any other version.
Make a duplicate layer by pressing "ctrl" and "J".
Press "S" to get to the Clone Stamp tool.
Up along the top, underneath the main tool bar will be the bar for whichever tool you are currently using. You will see a "mode" field with a drop down menu. Pick color burn.
Go to your picture and place your cursor over the darkest part of your background.
Press "Alt" and click.
Now you can just paint with the tool. I generally zoom in on my photo quite a bit and choose a pixel size of maybe 100-300, depending on the picture. If you have large areas of background you can go even bigger.
If you accidentally brush over something that's not the background, it generally doesn't make a huge difference since you're burning. But if it does, just undo it and keep going.
Once you have burned your entire background, flatten your layers, and voila! It looks like it was black to begin with!
Now, this doesn't work if you are using a light background. It has to be fairly dark to start out with, so a dark colored blanket or sheet will be fine, but nothing too light.
Here are some examples from today (Since I had to set it all up, might as well get a few shots in, right?). You may not be able to tell a huge difference, but on some monitors it will be really obvious:
This picture has the original background, I did not burn it at all:
This picture was burned using photoshop:
One last piece of advice: I took the above pictures in the early afternoon. Generally, try to stay away from that time as the light is really no good...you can kind of tell that it gives her a washed out look, as compared to Sophia's pictures a few posts down which were taken around 10 am. I like to take portraits with this backdrop either in the morning or late afternoon. It is a north facing window which really gives some nice light if you catch it at the right time.
Hope this answered some questions!
Have fun being resourceful!