I spent so many months trying to achieve that classic studio shot of the perfect white background. It took me a lot of playing with studio lights and the cleanest of white sheets of paper. Then I realized that I can’t do this type of set-up procedure every single time, so I enlisted the help of trusty Photoshop.
I’ll show you the complete step-by-step that will produce amazing results every single time without having to go through the painstaking setup process. Here’s what I’m starting off with:
It’s SOOOOOO ugly. Wish I had an emoji of a Munch scream face here. Anyway, let’s look past the ugliness and start cleaning this thing up.
So, first and foremost, as you can see in this before picture, I pumped down the contrast and adjusted the settings a bit to give me the most data out of the picture. Meaning, I made sure the shadows weren’t too dark, and the highlights weren’t making the photo blown out in certain spots. So play around with this first and pull out the most data you can out of your original shot in Lightroom before opening it in Photoshop.
1. In Photoshop, crop to get rid of any elements that shouldn’t be in the photo.
2. If the edges of your photos have some vignetting like in mine, use the “Dodge” tool from your Photoshop toolbar, set the brush to “Range: Midtones” and “Exposure: 100%” and go over the vignetted corners to equalize the white background.
3. Go to Select—> Color Range. With the Color Range window open, use the eyedropper tool that is opened by default and click on the white background in your picture. Play around with the fuzziness until you get an almost ideal selection of your subject (i.e. your flatly items) as a solid black mask while your background is completely white. Click OK.
4. Create a new group (it’s the 3rd icon from the left at the bottom of your “Layers” toolbar) and then create a new mask for that group (5th icon from the left in the “Layers” toolbar). Alt+Click on the Group Mask image in the Layers toolbar. You should now have a black and white image in front of you.
5. Select the brush tool and set it to the following:
Brush Color- Black
Now start painting the subjects (the black objects) of the photo with the brush.
6. Create a new layer within the mask group and go to Edit—>Fill. Fill it with White.
7. Done! Now combine all the layers (you can press Command+Shift+E) and adjust the contrast to best suit how you want your subjects to appear.
If you are struggling with this for any reason (it’s a TINY bit of a learning curve) let me know and I’ll try to walk you through it wherever you’re stuck.
Show me your perfect white background shots when you’re done! And let me know if you have any other Photoshop or photography tutorial requests. 🙂