Getting a pure white background for non pros, some tips

posted on 26th of january, 2010

I would like to share with non pros, people like me, who don't own a photographic studio neither expensive lights and spotlights and just have their home lights (like me ^^)

Well, I always try to shoot in natural daylight, I often go to the balcony, I put a white background and set my mini homemade studio, specially on a bright day, without direct sun light

I try to shoot at a non very fast speed. And always in RAW mode

Once the pictures taked, here come the hard work!

I open the raws with PS 4 and adjust the exposition and brightness, then save to TIFF.

Open the TIFF files and check the background, if it isn't pure white still, I need to adjust the levels by moving the center item to the right, try not to loss details of the image

One tool I use to ckeck the white of the background (My monitor isn't very well callibrated and while I see pure white other can see artifacts left or only a whittish gray) is the next:

In photoshop, on the panel where you have all your layers, create a new layer trhough layers/new adjustment layer/Levels and on that layer put the slider completely to the right

You can see the dark areas on your image and make the pure white.

Another tool I use is the pen tool, but you need a bit of knowledge about bezier curves. I trace the silhouette of the object with the pen and then I save it as a clipping path. I select the path and delete the background

Don't use the magic wand, it created an irregular awful borders

I hope being useful for newbies and non-pros :) this is all I have learned during this 3 years in microstock

Some of my old files have an awful background I would like to resubmit in pure white, like these:

--> level 2 wuith 5 dl, wow, I don't want to disable it!! I wish I could just replace the file itself without changing the level!

--> grey BG, I would change it by now

--> tried once to re upload in white but it was refused :(

Comments (27)

Posted by Mprimavera on April 06, 2010
You can also use Adjustment Layers for fine tuning.
Posted by Giannelliwilliam on February 24, 2010
Very usefull! It's important to share tips between us that we haven't professional lights and powerfull studio equipments.
Posted by Heathse on February 23, 2010
Thank you for taking the time to pass on these tips. I must be the only photographer on DT who doesn't have photoshop! I use Paint Shop Pro X2 which doesn't seem to give as good results. (although it's probably me). Have a good year Ingrid!
Posted by Alanasfinephoto on February 18, 2010
Thanks so good info!
Posted by Bluwarrior on February 16, 2010
Great tutorial.Specially in my case!... I "hate" being loosing time in front of a computer screen...and just after years of having photoshop in my computer started to use it a bit... Thanks for your tips.
Posted by Dan1 on February 16, 2010
I have trouble with white backgrounds also and photoshop remains a mystery to me. (maybe i'm trying too hard). Great ideas and tips by the way.
Posted by Trottola on February 15, 2010
Really helpful, than you for share these tips.
Posted by Littledesire on February 12, 2010
Perfect isolation, thanks for the tips! Voted useful!
Posted by Sancreats on February 05, 2010
Thanx for the tips. very useful ones...
Posted by Porjii on January 31, 2010
will try to take all of these tips into acount. Thanks and great work!
Posted by Fleyeing on January 30, 2010
I think there is a faster work flow to eliminate the patches of non-pure white. Use the Magic Wand tool, tolerance 0, no Anti-alias, no Contiguous. These settings are vital. Then click somewhere on a pure white (255,255,255 in the info panel) pixel and the resulting selection will only contain pure white. Invert that selection and paint the "islands" with a 100% density white brush. Areas close to the object should be dodged (Range highlights, Exposure max 10%) with a soft brush around 40px wide, and just slightly touching the object's border. Always keep your inverted selection, since you don't want to dodge perfect white areas.
Posted by Arcadia_dreamstime on January 29, 2010
Really Great I must start take pictures with a white background
Posted by Jarroyo1982 on January 29, 2010
A very interesting post, and above all, useful! I see every one has his/her own technique. Thank you for sharing. I like the shigtly gray backgrounds anyway. They make the image less "synthetic".
Best regards,
Posted by Vclements on January 28, 2010
If you get it right in camera you don't need to go through all of that PS headache
Posted by Titania1980 on January 28, 2010
Davulcu, yes sometimes is useful doing that, it deppends on the detail level
Posted by Davulcu on January 28, 2010
I use magic wand and correct the borders with a soft brush with a low level of flow. If you think it s hard with 0 tolerance then increase the tolerance about 20 and avoid destroying the edges.
Posted by Studioportosabbia on January 27, 2010
thanks for sharing...I hope it works with Photoshop Elements as well...
Posted by Wildmac on January 27, 2010
Great tips Ingrid, thanks :)
Posted by Rosedarc on January 27, 2010
Great tips, the pen works definitely better than the magic wand, I use it a lot but I'm not always sure what level of feather to use.
BTW which lens do you use? I don't always achieve all over sharpness for close objects.
Posted by Titania1980 on January 26, 2010
Thank you all for your comments!
Julia: if youi can, try to avoid magic wand, I used it at the beginning of all and it gives an irregularr awful borders

Cretivei: I save in TIFF from RAW in order I can work on it, and re open without loosing quality, the final pictures, that which I upload to DT is on JPG, but some archives I don't finish on working on them on the same day and I save them on tiff, for example the flip flop shoes I needed a couple of days, it deppends on the time I have on editing them :)
Posted by Creativei on January 26, 2010
Great blog and nice images, and believe me keeping those path is very useful for buyers. Another question why do you save it TIFF???? Why not jpeg, which will saves space (well these days space is not an issue) and the rendering and work flow will be faster.
Posted by Mani33 on January 26, 2010
Good to share these tips! Nice shots ;)
Posted by Justmeyo on January 26, 2010
I am sure for newbies it is very useful.I did learn also how to isolate objects or people and i have few photos on Grey background from when i was newbie and i can only let the photos in this way.Anyway now i have lights and a white background but when i started i didn't had anything and it was very hard .
You give a good example to all newbies but writing those tips,congratulations!
Posted by Hlehnerer on January 26, 2010
Good tips! Nice images!
Posted by Julia161 on January 26, 2010
Great tip, thank you! Will definately try it (I'm still fighting against ugly borders from magic wand with eraser tool - it takes crazy amount of time). Your old photos look great, too. Not everything should be on white background ;)
Posted by Davidwatmough on January 26, 2010
I need photoshop tutorials and am thinking of going back to college at nights. When I play using Photoshop my images are usually rejected by DT as over processed. Thanks for your explanation and examples which exemplify my problem........ sky light coming through the roof lights tinged with blue or grey ! David.
Posted by Luissantos84 on January 26, 2010
very nice photos! I bought a lighting kit with continuous lights and it works pretty good, I am starting now to upload my first isolations! cheers and keep up

Comments (27)

This article has been read 3898 times. 13 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Ingrid Prats.

About me

I got interested in photography on 2004-05, when I bought my first digital camera. I bought better cameras and finally, in 2006 I discovered Stock Photography, a fun and easy way to make money with my pictures, beside I'm not a pro. If you purchase one of my pics and want to let a comment about how it will be used I'll be very happy ;) If you need some specific theme or subject leave me a comment and I'll shoot it :) If you are from Barcelona or near and want to be my model,please leave me a comment

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