Tuesday, May 3, 2011
"Green Screen" For Photographers
Pro tips for creating imaginative composite images
WESTCOTT GREEN SCREEN KIT
Do you want to try your hand at greenscreen techniques with a simple setup? Westcott offers an inexpensive kit to get you started. The Green Screen Digital Photo Kit includes a 5x7-foot greenscreen with wall hook, plus software that helps automate the process and includes 100 virtual backgrounds to try. Westcott also offers similar kits that include lights. Estimated Street Price: $69 for the basic kit. Contact: Westcott, www.photobasics.net.
"When it's time to get picky about the mask," he says, "I start with a blur/choke technique, then repeat. This is done by selecting the layer mask and applying usually a 1-pixel blur. Then select levels and move the triangles to one side to choke; moving to the other side will spread. This is the old-school way; Photoshop has probably got something in the Selection Refine tool that does the same thing, but I do what I know works. I repeat the process with a 0.5-pixel blur and less movement in Levels. Don't overdo it; you want to tighten the mask, but not sharpen it. It's the fuzzy pixels between the subject and background that make a seamless merge. Too sharp an edge, and it looks obvious.
"To get rid of any color from the original background," he continues, "if it doesn't match perfectly, I try two techniques. One is to use the Hue/Saturation filter to isolate the color in the hair and change that to match the new background. That probably works some places, but not everywhere. Next, I add a new layer above the model and turn it to Color mode. I then select a color of hair right next to the background color and literally brush away that original background. This is why I don't use white—no way to brush it out, but turning blue or green to brown is easy.
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Canon 24-105mm ƒ/4L Tamron 28-75mm ƒ/2.8
I rent medium-format when needed Panasonic GH1 (hacked) for video
Dynalite (love the size), AB ring flash, some old Novatrons—I'll use anything that flashes iMac 27-inch i7
Old 17-inch Apple monitor, for menus Two Western Digital MyBook SE IIs (2 TB)
Logitech MX310 mouse (fits like an old glove, and I've always hated Apple's mice) Wacom Tablets
Two Epson R1900 Printers UltraPro Gloss and Satin Paper from Red River Paper
Chris Borgman is a New York-based advertising and editorial photographer. He also teaches photography and advanced Photoshop techniques at the Miami Ad School in Florida. "If you want to learn advertising photography in its truest form, this is the place." Go to chrisborgman.com.
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