General Question

waterskier2007's avatar

How can I artificially create a formal senior picture background?

Asked by waterskier2007 (2050points) October 6th, 2010

It needs to be a headshot in formal attire. My question is how do i make a background that looks good. I am planning on shooting him up against a wall. I have an external flash if that adds more info. I also have Apple Aperture and Photoshop CS4 on my comp for PP.

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8 Answers

Kardamom's avatar

One thing you can do is hang a bolt of fabric on your wall and make sure it is taller, and longer and wider than your actual shot. If you get a piece of fabric (or a blanket that doesn’t have a noticeable sheen or texture) that is either dark gray or grayish blue, with no wrinkles in it, it will look just like you took it in a professional studio as long as all of your lighting is correct. Make sure your subjects’ head is very close to the fabric so that you don’t get a shadow on the fabric. The best way to do this and get good lighting is to do it outside on a bright, but overcast day. You could hang the fabric from a fence or a clothesline or from the eves on your house.

ETpro's avatar

To get studio looking work, you really need photo-flood lighting with diffusers. With a flash, you’re going to get harsh background shadows. You might photograph the background first, then pose him in front of it and photograph him. Make sure the camera position in relation to the background is the same in both shots. Now, go to Photoshop.

Select the tool that lets you click a series of points to select a section of an image. Make sure anti-aliasing is checked and you might want to set feathering to 2 or 3 pixels to avoid getting a bunch of jagged looking artifacts. Magnify the image of yourself and carefully select yourself. Copy the selection to the clipboard and paste it into the desired position on your background. If you really want to get cute, you can float the selection to a new layer, then make a shadow layer under it and carefully draw in a shadow. using the selection tool and feathering.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

To photograph my 3-D artwork I use a gradated background I bought from Ebay.I have also used a sheet of formica,curved and lit to show gradation.Fabric works too.
Check on line for lighting set-ups for portrait photography.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

The legends of Northern Light are true. All you need is a reasonably sized window with a northern exposure, and a white wall or backdrop.

If you stand in front of the window, with subject facing the window, you will see the most beautiful glow on the subjects face, absolutely no shadows, skin smooths and wrinkles disappear, and lighter colored eyes become electric.

Then you can turn 90 degrees and use the window as a side light for a more dramatic affect. You can’t improve on Gods natural northern light!

Here’s a sample with front lighting on the left, and side lighting on the right. You’ll need a low aperture lens because you’re shooting available light. But that works well to throw any background out of focus and isolate the subject.

Here’s another sample but this time with side lighting on the left, and front lighting on the right, and you can see how the blue eyes become electrified.

Have fun!

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Oh! You said “artificially”… never mind.

I do my artificial work the old fashioned way. These Girls were shot in the studio and then cut out by hand at the 600% pixel level. I photographed the backgrounds prior and shot each girl specifically for her intended surroundings. The shadows under the feet were painted by hand with the burn tool.

These were a little more difficult because of the night scenes. The details are what make them believable. Notice the reflection of the foot in the water pool, and the shadows coming from different angles emulating multiple headlights. As well, at 600%, that’s the only way to get her hair looking real for the cutout, like these.

ETpro's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Now that’s what I was talking about. THanks so much for chiming in with your expertise in photography.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Just one more example that requires a tripod and a lot of patience. This is the same guy in each of these shots. Keep the tripod still, photograph him in one outfit, then have him change clothing and styling, and shoot him again in the second pose/position. Bump the camera one time, and start all over again.

But the results can be very rewarding, and all you gotta do is split the photo, and only cut where the two bodies meet.

ETpro's avatar

Artificial twins. Cute.

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