Portraiture with Chroma Key

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Ed Sievers, Feb 18, 2006.

  1. Ed Sievers

    Ed Sievers Guest

    I don't find anything in the archives for this group, so
    here's my question:

    I want to try my hand at portraits (my family) and don't
    want to spend a ton on backdrop(s). I have a 20D with a
    fairly long (28-135) lens, 580EX and the ST-E2 transmitter
    and I plan to pick up a 430EX for fill flash. Is it
    feasible to set up a "studio" in a spare room and use the
    above equip plus a chromakey (probably home-made with Rosco
    paint) behind the subjects and then "Photoshop in" the
    backgnd that I want? I sure don't want to invest in studio
    lighting etc for my amatuer "experiment".

    I know a pro could do it a lot better, but it sure is fun to
    "roll your own" ....... if the results are acceptable.

    TIA
    Ed S.
    Ed Sievers, Feb 18, 2006
    #1
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  2. Ed Sievers

    Neil Ellwood Guest

    On Fri, 17 Feb 2006 21:58:41 -0700, Ed Sievers wrote:

    > I don't find anything in the archives for this group, so
    > here's my question:
    >
    > I want to try my hand at portraits (my family) and don't
    > want to spend a ton on backdrop(s). I have a 20D with a
    > fairly long (28-135) lens, 580EX and the ST-E2 transmitter
    > and I plan to pick up a 430EX for fill flash. Is it
    > feasible to set up a "studio" in a spare room and use the
    > above equip plus a chromakey (probably home-made with Rosco
    > paint) behind the subjects and then "Photoshop in" the
    > backgnd that I want? I sure don't want to invest in studio
    > lighting etc for my amatuer "experiment".
    >
    > I know a pro could do it a lot better, but it sure is fun to
    > "roll your own" ....... if the results are acceptable.
    >
    > TIA
    > Ed S.

    Try your portraits outside first.
    Experiment with the direction of lighting (use sheets of newspaper for
    reflectors} but don't use brilliant sunshine.
    Try different backgrounds - use nature and make your own (needn't cost the
    earth).
    Enjoy yourself, bur also remember that portraits do not HAVE to be of
    people, don't limit yourself and good luck.

    --
    Neil
    Delete l to reply
    Neil Ellwood, Feb 18, 2006
    #2
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  3. Ed Sievers <> wrote:
    : I don't find anything in the archives for this group, so
    : here's my question:

    : I want to try my hand at portraits (my family) and don't
    : want to spend a ton on backdrop(s). I have a 20D with a
    : fairly long (28-135) lens, 580EX and the ST-E2 transmitter
    : and I plan to pick up a 430EX for fill flash. Is it
    : feasible to set up a "studio" in a spare room and use the
    : above equip plus a chromakey (probably home-made with Rosco
    : paint) behind the subjects and then "Photoshop in" the
    : backgnd that I want? I sure don't want to invest in studio
    : lighting etc for my amatuer "experiment".

    : I know a pro could do it a lot better, but it sure is fun to
    : "roll your own" ....... if the results are acceptable.

    It is certainly possible. A single color background will make it easy to
    use the "magic wand" selection tool to select the background. A quick
    cut and you could either place a seperate background behind the non
    selected foreground or you could invert the original selection and cut the
    foreground to be pasted over a new background. Either way you will
    probably want to explore what additional edge processing you will want to
    do to blend the two images. I would suggest that you may want to use
    steady state lights instead of flashes as it is easier to spot unintended
    shadows or bright flashes in advance of the actual photo capture. I also
    would concider having more than one single color backgrounds available so
    that you can adjust for possible clothing color difficulties. If your
    subject shows up in a green dress, a green background could be tricky. :)

    In addition to the fill light on the back of the subject (so that color
    reflections from the screen don't cause color casts to the skin of the
    subject), you would want to set up some "fill lights" to illuminate the
    "green screen" evenly so that shadows do not make the one-touch selection
    difficult. If the screen is all one single color the wand will select it
    easy. But shadows from the primary subject would change the color slightly
    and require either additional "select" operations or a wider range of
    colors that increases the odds of something on the primary subject being
    selected inadvertantly. Nothing worse than finding out when you are almost
    done with post production that your subject has a hole in their belly
    caused by an inadvertant colored flash from a belt buckle. :) And you know
    that such a hole will never be apparent until you go to paste in your
    background and find that you can suddenly see the autumn colored trees in
    the background right through this unnoticed hole. :)

    Randy

    ==========
    Randy Berbaum
    Champaign, IL
    Randy Berbaum, Feb 18, 2006
    #3
  4. This post covers it well. The key is to evenly light the background so its
    easy to select. You also need to light the subject from the back so it pops
    from the background and you don't have green edges on your skin. Then you
    need lights for the subject.

    All this takes some space for seperation of the subject from the screen, and
    about 6 lights at the minimum.

    There are slave flashes that screw into a normal plug. These are cheap
    ....but if anyone knows where I can get some I am always looking for better
    sources.

    I differ on the subject of constant light over slaves. Slaves are cheaper
    and burn less electricty. Shooting digital you can try a set up and see if
    it works.
    Gene Palmiter, Feb 19, 2006
    #4
  5. Ed Sievers

    Ed Sievers Guest

    Thanks Randy and Neil for taking the time to respond. I do
    appreciate your suggestions/input. I am not sure I will
    master digital in my lifetime (heck, I'm not sure I will
    ever fully understand Photoshop CS in one lifetime) but it
    is a lot of fun learning about this rather complex "hobby".
    I know I don't want to just be a "point and shooter"
    forever. :^)
    "Ed Sievers" <> wrote in message
    news:ejyJf.849$...
    >I don't find anything in the archives for this group, so
    >here's my question:
    >
    > I want to try my hand at portraits (my family) and don't
    > want to spend a ton on backdrop(s). I have a 20D with a
    > fairly long (28-135) lens, 580EX and the ST-E2 transmitter
    > and I plan to pick up a 430EX for fill flash. Is it
    > feasible to set up a "studio" in a spare room and use the
    > above equip plus a chromakey (probably home-made with
    > Rosco paint) behind the subjects and then "Photoshop in"
    > the backgnd that I want? I sure don't want to invest in
    > studio lighting etc for my amatuer "experiment".
    >
    > I know a pro could do it a lot better, but it sure is fun
    > to "roll your own" ....... if the results are acceptable.
    >
    > TIA
    > Ed S.
    >
    Ed Sievers, Feb 24, 2006
    #5
  6. Ed Sievers

    Clyde Guest

    It sounds to me like you have never actually tried this. Believe me,
    the Magic Wand very rarely does a good job of selecting a single color
    background. I have shot portraits with a green, chroma background.
    Sometimes it's better than not using it, but it is still a pain.

    The problem is that backgrounds and subjects rarely have hard edges
    between them. This is true around soft clothing. It is most true around
    hair and light colored hair in particular. You will get a lot of
    bleedthrough of the background color. That makes hard edge selection
    tool useless.

    I usually use the "a" channel in the LAB mode to start the mask to get
    rid of my green background. It is only a start though. There is a lot
    of work to making it mostly right. Increase the contrast, but not too
    much to get rid of those boarder and partial areas. I do a lot of brush
    work on the mask. Even then I do a lot of touch up work after.

    The other key thing to remember is to keep the background out of the
    lights. If it is close enough to the subject to get in the lights, it
    will probably reflect color onto the subject. Then you have a LOT of
    work properly getting rid of the green tint on parts of the subject.

    My view is to use the green screen only when I HAVE to. I watched the
    extras on the DVD of Star Wars: Episode III. When I saw that much
    better experts than I spent weeks cutting out green and blue
    backgrounds for one 30 second shot, I knew they weren't thinking it was
    easy either.

    Clyde
    Clyde, Feb 25, 2006
    #6
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