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Thread started 28 Mar 2011 (Monday) 05:35
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How do you separate your subject from the background with PP?

 
ReflektionsPhotography
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Mar 28, 2011 05:35 |  #1
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Hello

I've noticed that a lot of pictures that I really like seem to have the subjects (wedding photography) that separate their subjects from the backgrounds somehow.

I know this is a really generic question, but I'm not really sure how to start asking the question other than this.

Any PP gurus out there care to help explain this using Lightroom 3 only?


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ssim
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Mar 28, 2011 05:57 |  #2

I haven't upgraded to Lightroom 3 and don't have plans to but from what I know about it this is beyond its capabilities. Photoshop is the tool for this and if you want to learn about doing this you should start with how to make exacting selections in Photoshop. There concept is simple enouhg in that you select what you want moved, cut it out and paste it back in on its own layer. It sounds simple but in reality it takes plenty of practice.

I would start with fairly simple item, something that has clearly defined lines or has lots of contrast. This makes it easier for the selection tools to pick up the edges. I would start on something like YouTube and search for Photoshop selections Of course one can always buy a photoshop book.


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PixelMagic
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Mar 28, 2011 06:39 |  #3

You would typically lighten/brighten the Exposure values of the background immediately behind the subject(s) to simulate a splash of background light. This is usually done in a circle or oval shape.

The best way to do it is to select your subject(s) and place them on a new layer. This allows you to work without worrying about accidentally modifying the subject(s). Since Lightroom does not support layers and its selection tools are not very precise I cannot suggest it as the tool for the job you want to do. Use Photoshop.

Of course if your background is already light you can add a vignette in Lightroom to direct the viewers' eyes to the subject. But if you need to lighten the background its much more difficult to do in Lightroom because you'll have to apply the Adjustment brush in varying strenghs on the background and then on the actual subject.

ReflektionsPhotography wrote in post #12107463 (external link)
Hello

I've noticed that a lot of pictures that I really like seem to have the subjects (wedding photography) that separate their subjects from the backgrounds somehow.

I know this is a really generic question, but I'm not really sure how to start asking the question other than this.

Any PP gurus out there care to help explain this using Lightroom 3 only?


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Mark-B
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Mar 28, 2011 06:42 |  #4

The best way to get that effect is to shoot with a wide aperture lens so the background separation is done in camera when the picture is taken.

Using only Lightroom 3, my best suggestion would be to use the blur brush to soften the background, then the saturation brush to desaturate the background. This can help to give the illusion of background separation. If you still need more after that, try adding a little brightness and/or contrast to your main subject.


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bohdank
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Mar 28, 2011 07:02 |  #5

ReflektionsPhotography wrote in post #12107463 (external link)
Hello

I've noticed that a lot of pictures that I really like seem to have the subjects (wedding photography) that separate their subjects from the backgrounds somehow.

I know this is a really generic question, but I'm not really sure how to start asking the question other than this.

Any PP gurus out there care to help explain this using Lightroom 3 only?

Post a link (not the actual image) here so we can get a better idea of what you are asking about.


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tonylong
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Mar 28, 2011 12:21 |  #6

Mark-B wrote in post #12107604 (external link)
The best way to get that effect is to shoot with a wide aperture lens so the background separation is done in camera when the picture is taken.

Using only Lightroom 3, my best suggestion would be to use the blur brush to soften the background, then the saturation brush to desaturate the background. This can help to give the illusion of background separation. If you still need more after that, try adding a little brightness and/or contrast to your main subject.

These are two key points: using the proper lens with a wide aperture gives "subject separation" out of the camera, which should be the starting point -- otherwise you are forces into "faking" a look which, if you are earning money shooting weddings, you should invest into a proper lens to "get the look".

Then, you can use the Lightroom brushes to touch up parts of the image selectively or Photoshop/Elements to get more "fancy" with layers and masks.


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ScullenCrossBones
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Mar 28, 2011 12:34 |  #7

You can use Photoshop Elements (cheaper than lightroom). Work in layers.

The basic method is to duplicate the background layer. Then apply a guassian blur to the new layer. Then erase the subject on that layer using the erase tool on that layer to reveal the subject in sharp focus. You don't even need a mask. Use the erase tool on all the portions you want to be in focus.

This works great on one or two images, but if you need to apply this to several hundred, you should shoot with a wide aperture lens instead :)


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PixelMagic
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Mar 28, 2011 12:38 |  #8

Wow....

ScullenCrossBones wrote in post #12109552 (external link)
You can use Photoshop Elements (cheaper than lightroom). Work in layers.

The basic method is to duplicate the background layer. Then apply a guassian blur to the new layer. Then erase the subject on that layer using the erase tool on that layer to reveal the subject in sharp focus. You don't even need a mask. Use the erase tool on all the portions you want to be in focus.

This works great on one or two images, but if you need to apply this to several hundred, you should shoot with a wide aperture lens instead :)


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tricky500
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Mar 28, 2011 12:44 |  #9

ScullenCrossBones wrote in post #12109552 (external link)
You can use Photoshop Elements (cheaper than lightroom). Work in layers.

The basic method is to duplicate the background layer. Then apply a guassian blur to the new layer. Then erase the subject on that layer using the erase tool on that layer to reveal the subject in sharp focus. You don't even need a mask. Use the erase tool on all the portions you want to be in focus.

This works great on one or two images, but if you need to apply this to several hundred, you should shoot with a wide aperture lens instead :)

With all due respect, even though this should be common knowledge by everyone here by now I feel it should be clarified anyhow, do not listen to this advice..


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tonylong
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Mar 28, 2011 12:59 |  #10

tricky500 wrote in post #12109608 (external link)
With all due respect, even though this should be common knowledge by everyone here by now I feel it should be clarified anyhow, do not listen to this advice..

Maybe you should clarify what needs to be clarified -- the advice will work, it is one possible approach (erasing part of the layer copy) and was an old "standard" approach in Elements (although adding a mask work-around became considered more appropriate).


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Peano
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Mar 28, 2011 13:34 |  #11

ScullenCrossBones wrote in post #12109552 (external link)
The basic method is to duplicate the background layer. Then apply a guassian blur to the new layer. Then erase the subject on that layer using the erase tool on that layer to reveal the subject in sharp focus. You don't even need a mask. Use the erase tool on all the portions you want to be in focus. This works great ...

Try that method try on the following image and post your result. The subject is the red rectangle.

IMAGE: http://img855.imageshack.us/img855/7553/blur1.jpg

I made the subject simple so it's easy to erase (or mask, if you prefer) along the edges.
The goal is to end up with the red rectangle cleanly defined and everything else blurred
beyond recognition, about like this:

IMAGE: http://img849.imageshack.us/img849/7997/blur2.jpg

---
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tricky500
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Mar 28, 2011 13:36 |  #12

Unless you take the time to cut a legitimate mask, not just a couple of clicks with some hokey feathered brush at 0% softness mask, or blur only very minimally, this is a waste of time. Do it in camera and spend your time with corrections and post processing doing something worthy of the effort put forth, or a better idea, go out and enjoy your day doing something else entirely or taking more pictures.


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Peano
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Mar 28, 2011 14:11 |  #13

tricky500 wrote in post #12109994 (external link)
Unless you take the time to cut a legitimate mask, not just a couple of clicks with some hokey feathered brush at 0% softness mask, or blur only very minimally, this is a waste of time.

Three points about what you say:

1. In this case, it takes only a couple of seconds to cut a mask. Just select the red rectangle and create the mask from the selection. Here's a clean mask, if you'd like to try that approach instead of erasing:

IMAGE: http://img21.imageshack.us/img21/124/maskut.jpg

2. It obviously wasn't a waste of time, because I got perfectly satisfactory results with the method I used (which is not the one suggested by ScullenCrossBones).

3. Sometimes the circumstances don't allow you to get the background blurred in the camera. The question then becomes: What's a good technique for blurring it in Photoshop?

I offered this as a little challenge to the technique described above. Anyone who tries that technique will discover why it isn't a good one.

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ReflektionsPhotography
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Mar 29, 2011 04:10 |  #14
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Is it bad of me to think "if I can't my effect in camera, I'm not gonna do it in Photoshop."


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tonylong
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Mar 29, 2011 07:37 |  #15

You can do it in post-processing, you just have to develop the skills to do it so that it doesn't come across as looking too "fake". Of course it is "fake", but you can learn to fake it "better"...

So, take the time to learn the Photoshop skills...and aim to get your photography skills up there!


Tony
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How do you separate your subject from the background with PP?
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