Monday, 17 February 2014

How To Edit a White Background for Your Photos


I often photograph objects, makeup, products on a plain white background for my blog photographs. It makes a simple clear image that shows off the product well and keeps things looking fresh. But achieving this pure white (or close enough) backdrop for my photos is something that often happens afterwards in editing software such as Photoshop. I use CS5 but the tips and tricks I'm about to show you as far as I know are available in most versions of Photoshop.

You don't need an expensive studio set up to achieve this look for your blog photographs. I'm going to show you the main steps I apply to all my blog images when I want a white background. I take the majority of my blog photos at home, in my bedroom using very simple and inexpensive equipment. These days I'm much happier with grey toned backdrops but sometimes a product may require a bright white space for that 'studio' look.

Firstly I photograph my objects on a white table top or in the past I've used a large white sheet of card and a white wall. I use as much natural light as possible (big window) and a small continuous softbox to make less work for myself in Photoshop. I make sure my camera settings are set for a light bright photograph but I don't want anything to be over-exposed. This is when you'll start to loose detail and sharpness.

Even with all this light, the white background can still look grey and a little dull. So here's how I fix it...



How to Edit a White Background in Photoshop



Curves

Open up your photo in Photoshop. Duplicate the layer so you can always revert back to the original. I always start with Curves. Hit 'CTRL+M' for the shortcut or go to Image > Adjustments > Curves to open up the Curves box. I bring the whites up slightly, and then the blacks down slightly. Forming this subtle curve seen above. You do this by clicking and dragging the line. Don't go overboard! We can always come back and repeat this step again. Click OK.



Levels

Next I go to Levels. 'CTRL+L' or Image > Adjustments > Levels. I bring up the white as seen here on the right hand side of the graph, and then bring back down the black a tiny bit for contrast. This will brighten up any areas on your image that are white and enrich any areas that are black. The grey slider is useful too, just move things around to see what happens to your photo. I don't stick by any strict numbers, each image is different. 



Dodge

By now you should your photo is brightening. The background appears whiter and the contrast is stronger. However you may have shadowy grey corners still lurking about, and outer edges of your image may appear duller than the center frame. I grab my Dodge tool (lollipop) which is a lightening tool. I reduce the exposure to around 50-70% seen in the first photo at the top and then go about sweeping the brush along the outer edges of my photo. A little at a time, short but smooth clicks. You can always hit CTRL+ALT+Z to reverse any mistakes. Avoid going over the objects in the photo too much as you will lighten up areas that don't need lightening. 



Selective Colour

Looking better! If needed I may go into Image>Adjustements>Selective Colour. From here I choose the colour 'Whites' from the drop down list and move the Black slider down to around -25% this will reduce any black colour (or grey tones) found in the white areas of the image.



Saturation 

After all this tweaking and adjusting you may find your image is now looking a bit too bold and overdone. This can usually be sorted by reducing the saturation slightly. 'CTRL+U' brings open the Hue/Saturation box or Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and you can slide down the Saturation bar to your desired look. 



Sharpen

I give everything a quick, subtle sharpen to finish. Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask brings up the box and I'm careful not to over sharpen as this will create a pixelated effect to your photos. And you're done!


Compare to your original to see how much it's been improved! You will never achieve clinical strength pure white product shots using this technique, for that you'd need studio lights and much more expensive equipment. But this is a simple solution for everyday images and for clear and professional looking product shots.

x



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25 comments

  1. I think I need to invest in photoshop, these look so much better!
    Lauren
    livinginaboxx

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  2. This is actually so helpful - thanks! x

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  3. How awesome! I need to do this to all my photos. Thank you so much. P.S.: love your blog

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  4. Great tips, I will definitely be using them in the future! x
    Maddy from UNSTITCHEDD

    

P.S. I don't want this to be spammy but I am also hosting a £50 Giveaway at the moment if you wanted to enter here

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  5. such a good tutorial! thankyou so so much for this lady :) x
    fiveonecouture.blogspot.co.uk

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  6. this is so helpful thanks you a lot from a blogger from Viet Nam ;)

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  7. This tut is so simple yet helpful! Great job!

    http://yuliayemelianova.com/

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  8. i've been trying to achieve this effect for so long but could never work out how. seriously, thank you so much for this!

    xo Sarah
    http://absolutelysarahx.blogspot.co.uk/

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  9. This is what I needed- thank-you!

    meg xo
    http://meghettymay.blogspot.co.uk/

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  10. One of these days, I'll actually have the motivation to do stuff like this. This post was easy to follow and read, thanks for sharing!

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  11. Thank you so much for this - This was extremely helpful! New follower!

    - Natalie
    www.couttiepie.blogspot.com [A Fashion and Lifestyle Blog]

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  12. Thanks for the tips! x

    http://damederose.wordpress.com/

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  13. Really helpful post, I'm currently studying photography at college - your method would be so much easier than using selection tools then copying and pasting :) thanks for sharing!

    Stella | stellashek

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  14. I have just found your blog and fallen in love with it!!

    http://cat3zoe.blogspot.co.uk/
    xxx

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  15. Amazing quality of photos. Great post.

    Paul Rusu
    urmaking.com

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  16. This is so helpful, thank you!

    www.atrickleofmeaning.com

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  17. Thanks for the helpful tips :)

    savvysuperstylish.blogspot.co.uk

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  18. Great post! This has helped so much! I always did a guide on my blog :)

    Blogdesherrell.com, x

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  19. Wow, your tutorial was very helpful. I don't have Photoshop, but all these steps are possible in gimp too.

    Thanks :)

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  20. Very helpful post and instructions are very easy to follow! Thank you so much :)

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  21. This is the tutorial that I've been looking for! And I just realise that dodge tool has some kind of usage. Thanks a lot :) Hope I can start to post better pictures on my blog and instagram now.
    THE KNITTED DIARY

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  22. these are amazing tips!! :D

    have a great week!
    Animated Confessions

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  23. I am glad you have shared an alternative idea here of removing the original background and placing it to a white one! But according to me Photoshop pen tool is the best choice for selecting the edge of any image and then a process named clipping path can be applied there for knocking out the background. Its not a difficult task to do as well.

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