Shoot: Black Backdrop for White Clothing
We've talked about all of these little things that we have to think about when compositing. And it's one thing to talk about it, and it's a whole other thing to actually do it and hope that you're getting the exact right angles. So one thing that I like to do when I know that I'm going to be compositing is to get tons of angles on things. And I would argue that this is why my composited shoots tend to go a little bit longer than my very straightforward images. Because I'm thinking so much about, okay, I've got this box. And as we talked about with a box, depending on what you're doing with it, if you're shooting it close or really far away, I'm going to definitely need to figure out my angle now. And if I don't, then I could be very unhappy with how this is going to go. So if I've got my box, and I'm going to be photographing it up close, okay, then like we said with the marker example, if I'm here versus here versus here, that's gonna make drastic changes in this image. Versus if I ph...
otograph it from really far away, this change isn't gonna do anything. So how can I make sure that this works? Answer number one is I cannot make absolutely certain that this works, that it works exactly as you want it to work. And I know that I can't do it, 'cause I've tried to do it, and I can never be certain. I am like... My brain does not work like this at all. Maybe yours does, and I envy you if it does. I am not a logical person. This does not come naturally to me. And I have people say that to me every once and a while, "You're so lucky that these things just come to you." I'm like, "No, this is hard work for me." I would rather be at the dentist. No, I would not be. I heard that coming out, and I was like, nope, I would not be. (audience laughter) But very close to it; I don't like this. So when I'm thinking about this box, you could approach it two ways. One being, okay, I'm gonna think this through. I'm gonna look at my other stock images. I'm gonna shoot this at exactly the right angle. Or my solution, which I think should be everyone's solution, because it's so much faster, is just to be like, okay, click, click, click, click, and you have all of these different angles that you're getting. Those weren't in focus. Don't mind that. (audience laughter) You know I already told you it's my problem, right, I've got some focus issues here. That sounds like a bigger life problem, doesn't it? Got some focus issues. But I'm gonna shoot it from every angle because I just don't wanna get in later into Photoshop and have to really stretch things in weird ways or have to re-shoot it. I mean, photographing a cardboard box is hard work, you guys. I don't wanna do that again. So I'm gonna make sure that this looks good as it is. But I am not ready to make sure of that, because I wanna shoot something else first. So, okay, we've got the cardboard box. We're gonna shoot this miniature scene, and I'm really excited for that. But... And this comes later, my special mug that I use all the time for different things that you'll see in just a moment. But first, I wanna get set up to photograph something really, really simple, and just put this into action how this might work, with cutting somebody off of a background. So April, would you mind coming up here? And I'm gonna have you come up again later, so this one's gonna be way simpler than even the next one, which is so simple. And I'm just gonna have you stand against the black. And if we can get the houselights down and the other ones up, that would be great. Yeah, and what I'm doing here is so simple. I'm just going to show really quickly what I would be thinking of if I was going to cut you off of a background and put you somewhere else. And I'm not going to try to do anything fancy here. This is just going to be a quick example. And I have... You have very pale skin, which is good. You have red hair, which is my favorite thing in the world, and you're wearing white, so there's nothing to think about because we have this perfect situation of black backdrop, pale everything. We have so much in common; we're so pale. And so I'm just going to first get my focus here. Really, really simple. Oh, wow, and now suddenly everything is lit how I like it to be lit. And we've just got a quick photo. Now if I want you to be in a field with a dramatic, dark sky, there are two things that I'm thinking of. One, how dark of a sky, right? Oh, oh, yeah, great, okay. The lighting is down. Oh, yeah. So what I'm thinking of first is if I'm gonna have super dark clouds back there like in this image that I showed you earlier with the pulling the sky down, the clouds were very dark. And that could work really well for this image with the black behind because I'm going to be able to blend that well enough. But I would probably choose the gray backdrop just simply because gray clouds, gray backdrop. It all works. But let's say that you don't have that option. You have black and white, and those are your options right now and you can't do anything else. Well, think about this. So you've got a subject here who is wearing all white. Beautiful, awesome hair that doesn't have any darkness to it. You look perfect. And there are no shadows on you. You're just light and airy. So if I were to go in and Photoshop with this dark backdrop and it needed to be just slightly lighter, it would be really easy for me to do because I could just isolate this black, just select that color black, which is not showing up anywhere else on our subject, and lighten that color black to be gray. That would work in this situation because there isn't anything else black. So if you wouldn't mind just looking airily out to the side. Oh, that's perfect. Good, okay. So then we've got our subject with almost no shadows. And one thing that you can argue... Oh, and you can have a seat, thank you. So one thing that you could argue is that there are shadows down in this area on her chin and on her neck and things like that, but it's gonna still be pretty easy to isolate the dark background because I can just draw a quick outline all around it just to isolate it. You don't have anything on the subject. And then we can lighten that background up. So I'm gonna stick with that actually for this image, just assuming that one day she'll be on this stormy background looking very pensive and, I don't know, heroic in some sweet way. 'Cause I feel like I can't just say you're heroic and then not say sweet, because that doesn't make any sense, especially 'cause your sweater's so cute. So that would be one way that I would consider how to move somebody to a new background. And I shot her straight on. I didn't get some weird, low angle. So that means that if I am putting a sky in the background, I would've wanted to shoot that sky sort of off in the distance. One thing that I notice a lot in images is... And, in fact, when I've been out shooting with people, is you'll see these great clouds and then you're like, oh, my gosh, click, and you take a picture of this cloud that's above you. But how frequently do you shoot someone from this angle, right? You just don't do that. You shoot somebody looking straight at them. And that's why whenever I photograph clouds and things like that, stock images that are out in nature, I try to see a horizon line in the distance so that I know, oh, those clouds connected here with the horizon. In this case, we have somebody who is not in any particular background. They don't have any context to where they're standing, so she could be super close to the camera and maybe the clouds are way in the distance and there's all this blur between them. And that doesn't really matter in this situation. The one thing that I would mention here in terms of moving someone to a new background is the fact that April was standing really close to the backdrop generally. And the closer you are to the backdrop, that means the more the backdrop will be in focus, right. It's just how cameras work. If the subject is close to the background, both things will be in focus, depending on your aperture, of course, what your f-stop is, is you have shallow depth of field. So one thing that I could've done in this situation to make this even easier to cut would be to just have her step up closer to the windows and have all of this separation so that the background is super blurry and our subject stands out. Because just imagine right now... We're gonna play a little game where you're imagining that you're a tool in Photoshop. So just visualize you're a round eraser tool-type thing, okay. Yeah, that's what we're gonna do. Just go with it. And you're a little eraser tool, and your job is, because you're like this big in comparison to my head right now, okay. And you're like, okay, I've gotta erase around the hairs that I'm seeing. What are you gonna look for if you're the eraser tool? You're gonna look for, first of all, is there contrast between them so that I can actually figure out what I'm supposed to be erasing? And then, two, is there blur? Because if something is super in focus, and the thing in the background is really out of focus, that's going to create even more separation for that tool in Photoshop to isolate what you're trying to cut out. So that's something that I'm thinking about. And if I notice, I can see a few hairs around here. Okay, I definitely see that. And I notice that I can see some texture in the background as well. And that's probably not as good for being able to cut those hairs out. So would I re-shoot it? Yes. Am I going to? No. Because it's a really simple thing that we can all visualize, just that separation as much as possible. I mean, what's going to separate someone from a background? Contrast with the background and focus being shifted from the background to the foreground. So that's the big thing.