Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Blue Screen Photography

This morning the kids and I set up a photography studio in our dining room. I hung a sheer curtain over the window and set up several directional lamps with natural bulbs to get the best light I could make.

Then Curly helped me hang up our "blue screen" which happens to have Lightning McQueen on it (what doesn't in this house?). I have never deliberately tried to use a blue screen although I have done plenty of background replacement in PhotoShop. This was the first time I shot with the intent of doing the whole finished product in PS.

Curly and I set up some test shots of her once we got the tripod ready. Then I took the test shot and used my new PS plug-in for masking hair called Mask Pro. Hubby just gave it to me for my birthday so I haven't had much time to practice with it yet.

I finished the head shot of Curly and I'm pleased with the way the tool works. Of course the learning curve means next year's pics will be better but for now I think my blue screen worked pretty well.

We dressed all three kids in their new Easter outfits and posed them all in front of the blue screen. Having the photo shoot in my own house where it's warm and where I have unlimited time and an unlimited number of shots works so much better than a studio where more variables lower our chances of success.

After many, many outtakes we got all three kids to smile at least once. Then several hours of post-production work later, we have this year's Easter photo!

I'm pleased with how it came out this year and more than pleased with my new tool. I think I am going to invest in some kind of homemade blue screen that is smooth and really practice the technique because I was amazed how well everything came together.

A really good mask allows flexibility for any number of backgrounds and poses.

Which do you like the best?


  1. I like the daisy field best, it looks like you were really there to take the picture.

  2. My favorite is the one with them in the field of flowers. I set up a photo studio in my garage today too. Of course, my kids would pose or go anywhere near the "studio"...
    What tool in PS do you use to "cut out" the kids?

  3. I love the daisy field one too. So cute!!

  4. Kelley, each edge used a different technique. the sharpest edges used the magnetic lasso tool with a feathered edge of 1 or 2 pixels. For softer and curved edges I used the eraser and did it by hand. For the hair and the translucent dress I used my new Mask Pro plug-in which masks using color removal; it takes out the blue.

    How are you doing with PhotoShop? I know you have been learning it and I'm excited to see what you do since your photography is so good. :)

  5. I still can't do anything in PS. I don't like spending a ton of time of int, and when I try to learn, it never works out and I've wasted all that time. I need to take a class. I can't imagine spending all that time editing the photos.

  6. Kelley, I started learning PS back in 2000 when I worked at Champion Electric. I remember being SO frustrated every time I tried to do something and it took forever to get anything done! There was a huge learning curve. I remember watching the tutorial videos and thinking I could never do what they were demonstrating.

    But I gradually learned to do a few things, then a few more, then as it got easier, I was hooked! Now I am a hopeless PS addict and I think my dream vacation would be to lock me in a room with PS and some coffee and Gardettos.

    Hang in there. If you can get past the learning curve, PS is a really great tool for a photographer (or non-photographer like me). :)

  7. Cute! If I had a lot of extra money, I would love to get Photoshop CS 5 that's coming out. They have a really cool tool on there that would make life so much easier. It's called Content Aware, and you should look it up on Youtube. I was seriously drooling over it!

    I just want a Photoshop for Dummies, though.