Miraz Light At Work Photography

The secret to creating those Studio White Backgrounds

Lies in the Dodge tool. Now it doesn't matter if you use PS, PSE or Gimp - the dodge tool works the same way. You have to start off with a White backdrop. This was the second session in which I used a backdrop. The first time I used it, I had taken the pains to carefully iron out any creases, not to mention, starched it down. However, since I had washed the backdrop the night before - I was shooting a newborn and was just being cautious, the backdrop was, obviously wrinkled. I'm not a big laundry fan and even less of an ironing fan so I did not iron the backdrop when I took it to the shoot. Don't get me wrong if I didn't think I could have achieved the white studio look without ironing, I would have but, when I can get the same look later why bother to iron - note that motto's only limited to laundering. I do like to get my other stuff right in camera.

So, I started off with this image

As you can see - a ton of wrinkles. Now I could have taken a white brush and just gone to town with it over the backdrop. However, if you have tried it, you would know it wouldn't have worked too well on the edges where the backdrop intersects with little Miss I and her Grandma (been there and done that a long time ago when I was just getting my feet wet with Gimp and Miss Munchkin's baby pictures). The trick to getting the dazzling white look is in the very underrated Dodge tool. 

Not very many photogs use it or know how to use it. While its uses could be summed up in a mini book by itself, we'll focus on one of its uses - how it works with highlights. Especially with white highlights. So, I chose the dodge tool, set its Range to Highlights and its exposure very low - between 7 & 10% and then I painted all over the backdrop without being overly concerned about the edges where there was an overlap between the backdrop and the people in the picture. Here's what we ended up with.

Don't they look so cute together? If you ignore the frame, notice how there are no creases or a grayish looking white backdrop around them. 

Go ahead try this technique. Note however, the background needs to be some shade of white. Offwhite is fine ! But, the closer to white the better so don't go taking pictures of your kids lying in the grass and then trying to convert the background. It. won't. work. !!


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