I have a friend who makes ID badges for his company. He mentioned that he spends hours getting the background just right because he’s a perfectionist and really wants the background to be white so that when he prints them, the photo blends seamlessly with the rest of the card.
Perhaps you take product images for your website or etsy store and you want the product to appear floating on the page.
Or you are looking for a way to add images to a printable, website, or other file that and you don’t want to have a background color surrounding your subject.
There are a few different ways you can achieve this look. One is with lighting. You would need to light both the subject and the background. Having a properly exposed subject and an over-exposed (aka “blown out”) background is perhaps the most “correct” way to get this look.
But here at Martha, Martha, we are all about getting little things done easily (and cheaply) so you can invest more of your time (and money) into God’s kingdom.
To get the look in the photo above, I placed my subject a few feet in front of a white paper background. This was a few years back and I didn’t even own a backdrop stand at that time. The paper was taped to the wall and the roll rested on the floor.
There was a window to her right so the set up looked something like this:
The resulting image looked like this:
As you can see, the background is white…ish. If I were to place this image on a white background, you would clearly see the image edges. Let’s fix that.
The first thing we are going to do is add a Levels layer. You can click the little icon that looks like a histogram above the layers panel as seen here:
Then use the white eyedropper tool in the Info Panel to select the most off-white area of your photo. For me, that would be the area behind the subject, where her shadow fell on the white paper.
Already you can tell a vast improvement. And in this case, it has corrected the white balance on our subject for overall improvement. See how the greenish tint is gone from her skin? (I should have fixed that before. I can’t account for that. Just, look, this is an old image and it was orignially edited on an aging laptop whose screen was really unreliable, and hey, I can still tell you how to use photoshop even if I had some white balance issues, ok? You don’t know me! Sorry, I’m touchy about white balance.)
My next step is to flatten or save this image and drop it (or place embedded) in my file. I just created a blank image to show how that might look. I have turned off the background layer so that checkerboard pattern is how photoshop renders transparent space in an image.
With the background back on, you can see how the brighter part of the photo already blends seamlessly with the white, but the darker part (right side) of the image still has a definite line.
So we’re going to repeat the Levels>white eyedropper process.
Looking at our subject, this is not a good look for her. 🙂 We’ve got blown out spaces on the skin now. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for that.
Our levels layer has a mask. It’s the white rectangle linked to the histogram-icon in the layers panel. I have circled it in red on the right-hand side of the image below. Make sure that mask is selected by clicking on it.
Then, grab your brush tool (middle left screen), select black (as circled in the lower left screen), use your brush at 100% opacity with the hardness set to 0%. Those settings can be found at the top of the screen.
Then just paint over the subject with black to remove the effects of that layer, in this case, the levels adjusment.
That’s it! No painting around individual hairs, no cutting and pasting. The subject is still intact and the back ground is blown out as white as the surroundings.
Once you get the hang of it, this is super fast and simple.
Let me know what other photo problems keep you on the computer way too long!