EDIT SKILLS: BACK­GROUND CON­TROL

IN NEED OF A PHO­TO­SHOP FIX TO CLEAN UP YOUR POR­TRAITS? THESE QUICK TRICKS CAN HELP YOU GET A SEAM­LESS BACK­GROUND FROM CLUT­TERED CHAOS

Digital SLR Photography - - Contents -

Want free of back­ground dis­trac­tions? Be­come an edit­ing marvel with this quick and easy guide to re­touch­ing

GEEK- CUL­TURE CON­VEN­TIONS such as Comic Con are a haven for the fan­tas­ti­cally weird and a prime place to cap­ture por­traits with a lot of char­ac­ter. Where else could you photograph Won­der Woman, Chew­bacca or the cast from The Avengers within a mat­ter of min­utes of each other? Events with will­ing mod­els are in­ter­est­ing places to prac­tise your por­trait skills and pos­si­bly grab some great shots. You can shoot them with an open aper­ture to also in­clude the con­text of the event, or iso­late them with a dark­ened back­ground by sim­ply bring­ing in an off- cam­era flash, as used here.

By un­der­ex­pos­ing the am­bi­ent light and us­ing a dif­fused off- cam­era flash­gun to il­lu­mi­nate a will­ing sub­ject, you can take the first steps to­wards elim­i­nat­ing back­ground dis­trac­tions. Un­for­tu­nately, given how busy such events can be, it’s un­likely that you’ll be able to re­move all high­lights and peo­ple from the back­ground, which is where a lit­tle Pho­to­shop edit­ing can help.

If you’ve set your cam­era to shoot in Raw, then your job is go­ing to be an easy one and it’s likely that you won’t have to stray much fur­ther than step two. But if JPEGS are all you've got, that doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean you’ve missed your shot. If you’ve shot only JPEG, jump to step three – the process is a lit­tle more in­ten­sive and you'll need to use Ad­just­ment Lay­ers, but all is not lost.

1 OPEN

YOU IM­AGE IN LIGHT­ROOM OR ACR You’ve the most flex­i­bil­ity when work­ing with a Raw file and the best chances of re­tain­ing qual­ity once you ad­just the ex­po­sure. As this im­age is un­der­ex­posed, but the back­ground still has dis­trac­tions, brighten the over­all ex­po­sure first us­ing the Ex­po­sure and Shadow slid­ers. If there are hot spots cre­ated by the flash­gun, re­duce the High­lights slider. Fi­nally pull the Blacks slider all the way to the left to darken back­ground dis­trac­tions.

2 USE

THE AD­JUST­MENT BRUSH With the over­all ex­po­sure slightly bet­ter, click on the Ad­just­ment Brush at the top of the De­velop tool­bar. Set a Size to suit the back­ground dis­trac­tion, Flow and Den­sity to be­tween 20- 40 for best con­trol. Pull the Ex­po­sure, Con­trast, High­lights and Shad­ows slid­ers to the far left and care­fully brush over all back­ground dis­trac­tions. This may be all you need to do but if not, go to Photo> Edit In> Pho­to­shop ( or cho­sen soft­ware).

3 WHEN

WORK­ING WITH A JPEG To edit a JPEG in Pho­to­shop, you’ll need to use a Lev­els Ad­just­ment Layer with a Layer Mask. First ad­just the ex­po­sure so that the sub­ject is cor­rect us­ing Lev­els ( Layer> Ad­just­ment Layer> Lev­els). Add an­other Lev­els Ad­just­ment Layer and pull the black and grey tri­an­gle to the right to darken the back­ground. Click on the at­tached Layer Mask and In­vert ( cmd+ I on Mac, ctrl + I on Win­dows) and use the Brush tool set to White to darken ar­eas of the back­ground.

4 RE­MOVE

FI­NAL DIS­TRAC­TIONS If you've the odd el­e­ment still vis­i­ble, it's an easy fix. Se­lect all your lay­ers in the Lay­ers pal­ette by click­ing on each while hold­ing down the Shift key. Then press Shift+ cmd+ alt+ E ( Mac) or Shift+ ctrl+ alt+ E ( Win­dows) to merge all the lay­ers into a new layer. Se­lect the Clone Stamp tool, set to 100% Opac­ity, Hard­ness 50% and an ap­pro­pri­ate size. Click alt to sam­ple the area next to the one you want to re­place and brush un­til the dis­trac­tion is gone.

ORIG­I­NAL

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