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CREATING A BLACK OR WHITE BACKGROUND IN PHOTOSHOP


On my Flower Techniques workshops we spent a session going over about 15 different computer techniques for working with flower photography in addition to our field work and an evening of doing extreme macro techniques in the room. Two of the items covered include creating a black or white background to a shot. Below are the steps used for doing these in Photoshop as well as a before and after image for each technique. The steps are not that difficult but the more detail there is to the foreground subject the more work will be involved in cleaning it up with the brush.

Why create a black or white background? A white background is good for doing a computer technique to create a kaleidescope effect to a flower and for note or Christmas cards to put some text into a blank space. For a black background, it can be combined with the zoom filter for a shot with a very interesting effect. There are several other filters a black background can work well with such as polar coordinates. A little playing around will show lots of great effects that can be used with either of these backgrounds.

CREATE A BLACK BACKGROUND IN PHOTOSHOP
- Add an Exposure adjustment layer to darken the background. 
- There are three sliders: Exposure, Offset and Gamma Correction.  Move the Gamma Correction slider to the right until the background is fully dark.
- Create a layer mask and using the brush paint away the main subject to reveal the original color. Start with a large paintbrush to get large areas and then make the brush smaller with sharper edges to get the edges and small portions uncovered.
- Use the Clone tool to clean up any parts that need a little bit of filling in.

flower with cluttered background
Flower with a busy background

flower with blacck background
A nice, clean black background helps make the flower pop and gets rid of distracting elements

CREATE A WHITE BACKGROUND IN PHOTOSHOP
- Do a quick select of your subject.  This may take some work for subjects with lots of detail.  Invert the selection (Cmd Shift I).
- Create a Hue / Saturation adjustment layer of the inverted selected area to lighten the background.
- There are three sliders: Hue, Saturation and Lightness.  If you move the Lightness slider to the right it will lighten the selected inverted background.
- Create a Layer Mask and use the Brush (hard edge) to pick up any stray parts not selected previously.
- Flatten the image and use the Clone tool to clean up around the edges.

flower with busy background
Flower with a clean but colored background

flower with white background
White background