Monday, September 14, 2015

Using Photoshop To Get Rid Of A Background

This will be the second post in a row dealing with getting rid of distracting backgrounds.  If you haven't seen the other post I'd suggest you might want to check it out.  Today's image goes in the direct opposite direction.  Instead of doing all sorts of tricks to hide the background, today's image just plain eliminates "most" of  it.  The only piece of the background left is the shadow.  (Sort of like the Cheshire Cat.)  It would have been nice if I'd had the chance to shoot this fellow on a seamless white background and be done with it.  Unfortunately, he was in the middle of a dance circle with other dancers and people milling around in the background.  It made for an okay snapshot, but nothing to make it "an image".  For a couple of ideas about how to get rid of a difficult background, hit the "Read More".

The first thought is Adobe Photoshop's (PS) Quick Selection Tool (W).  There are two primary ways I use this tool.  One would be to make a loose selection around the subject using the Lasso Tool (L) and then using the Quick Selection Tool to define either the subject or the waste.  I typically pick the one I think will be easier to mark out.  The second method is to go straight to the Quick Selection Tool and try for the subject itself. 

Another way to attack the problem is using a plugin.  Topaz Labs Remask comes to mind.  The "trick" with Remask is that it has a checkbox in it's settings to either give just the cutout or the cutout with a mask.  It seems, by default, Remask comes ready to only give the cutout.  I highly recommend checking the box and taking the mask.  Without it, once you've left Remask "you got what you got" and can't use mask tricks to adjust included or missing areas.  Remask has as steep a learning curve as the Quick Selection Tool, but having both in your quiver (bad pun considering today's image) gives options.  Always a good thing.

My "go to" method for tricky selections is typically using PS's Calculations (Edit/Calculations) dialog box.  Because today's image had such a variety of shapes, sizes and colors in the background it just didn't work on today's image.

I've made a series of images like the one you see today.  I do believe they could sell as is or be the basis of images like the one in the last post.  (link above)  I might choose one (or two) to print at 24" x 36" to take with me next time I go to a pow wow.  We'll see.