You are here

Why I Am a Green Screen Photographer

(while it's not original, I am playing off William Beem's last few blog post titles).

When I got back from Photoshop World, I decided the next step in my photography was to shoot my own family photos. As mentioned in the last post, it's not that I don't think other places can do a good job, it's just something I wanted to do.  When deciding how to shoot that, I definitely still wanted to do some of the more natural/candid shots (again, as evidenced by my last post), and still wanted to be able to shoot posed stuff in a studio.  


As this post isn't about lighting, the only thing I'll say about that is I love the Westcott Strobelite 3 Lite Educational Set. That's all I'll say about that for now.  

With a studio though, I did need to decide what kind of background(s) to use.  I was very very tempted to go the white seamless route, since Zack makes it look so easy, but I knew I wouldn't be satisfied just with that.  I read a bunch on green screens, and decided to try that, getting the Westcott Green Screen.

The main negatives with green screens I read about, and can confirm are:

  • when you download the photo from the camera, you still have to deal with the background
  • selecting the green screen or things off the green screen can be difficult
  • sometimes your images on the edges will get a green color cast so you have to deal with that as well.

Even with all that, I still actually enjoy it. I'm a person who likes to change things up, and once you can pull the image off the background (or the background off the image), you have a virtually unlimited number of choices as to what you can do.  Do I want a scenic background? Do I want a solid color? A combination of colors with a texture?  Snowflakes?  The sky is the limit.

While there are many different ways to find digital backgrounds, I went with buying the Photobacks Upgraded Advantage Set (hint: they sell on Ebay too and it's slightly cheaper).  Yes, a lot of the backgrounds look like an amateur made them, but I've found more often than not that there is something I really like and want to use.

For our family photo, I combined 2 different backgrounds from that collection, and dropped the opacity on one to get a little bit of a color mix. Then I found a texture I liked and added that in.  

Original, untouched photo:

Original, untouched photo

Final, edited photo:

Family portrait

(some will note that I took out Peter's scratch on his face. I thought about that one long, and hard, and while this post isn't going to talk about that, I decided to do it because it's not normally part of who he is).

Normally doing a selection isn't that bad. I do one of three things normally:

  • Photoshop CS5 Quick Select with the Refine Edges option
  • Photoshop CS5 Color Range selection
  • onOne Software Mask Pro

Which one I do, depends on basically which one I'm in the mood to do, and sometimes if my first option doesn't work well, I'll try a different one. I honestly can't remember which one I used here, but usually I can get great results with one of those options, making sure I get the hair selected, and removing the green haze from the edges that you can get sometimes.

In conclusion, if I had an infinite amount of money to buy an infinite number of backgrounds I liked, I'd definitely do that, but since that's not an option, I'll stick with my green screening.


All Tags: