Photo Manipulation

Deep Etching / Background Removal

Every high end cellphone has a camera that is capable of taking images giving  many more people the tools to take photos to  promote their products on-line, but it does seem like you need an expert to cut out your photos so you can use them in publications or for your online shop – I’m here to help.

It’s part of my routine to remove the backgrounds of photos when designing online shops., so you know you’re in good hands – I’ve even got the tools to isolate a model’s hair, as long as the background isn’t too busy.

It can be really tricky to select only the object, not missing out edges that aren’t clear in the image – luckily I have years of experience in divining which pieces belong to the object and what belongs to the background.

You can book a photo session or get a quote, contact me by clicking on the button below:


Taking ideal photos for deep etching / background removal

Before taking pictures of an object to try and isolate it on a white background, there are certain things to consider:

A white or transparent object won’t show up very well on a white background and it may be necessary to light the object to make the most of any shadows in the image. If you’re going to edit the image yourself you may have the actual object for reference, but if you want us to clean up your images we need as much information as possible to be in the photo.

Try to avoid photographing transparent objects against complicated, coloured backgrounds and try to control ugly reflections – there’s nothing anyone can do to tame those and get a convincing result. We also can’t put back what’s not there, so try to frame the object nicely to give us space to work and clear the foreground of objects, smoke or audience members. We don’t have X-ray vision – yet.

Here is our workflow for photographing objects that can fit on a table top:

  1. Choose a room or space where you can control the light. A room with a large window that lets some sunlight in, but not direct sunlight because that becomes difficult to control. Choosing the right room can also take care of your first light source – A garage can work, if you have a clean surface to work on.
  2. Secondly, we need a nice clean, white background. Put down a nice, large, clean piece of white card or paper. Use the object you’re photographing as a size reference: when you look at your object on the card/paper you should have some white all around the object.
  3. Use some masking tape or duct tape to stick one side of the paper to a wall or vertical surface to make an “infinity curve” to help frame the object. You don’t want to have to hold onto anything while you take photos.  (Duct tape is that easy tear, tacky tape sometimes called gaffer tape, if you have ever worked in the movies, it’s available in a range of colours but we prefer black or silver) 
  4. Next, clean the object – get rid of any finger prints, food stains or dust – cleaning it up on the photo just wastes time and money.
  5. Ensure you have one main source of light, in front of the object,  above the object and slightly to one side. Make sure the light is pretty even and covers the whole object and piece of paper.
  6. You’ll need a second light source, not as strong as the first light, shining mostly on the background to wash out the shadows and make them easier to manage.
  7. Once you’ve got a setup like this, or similar, you can shoot some photos. You don’t need an expensive DSLR camera, a high end cell phone or compact camera can give you excellent results. Try not to use the on-camera flash because it flattens the image out and can make some really funky, ugly reflections and shadows.

Light and cleanliness are the two things you have to be most careful of. If it doesn’t look good on the day you take the photos, it’ll probably never look good. I always have a clean micro-fibre duster with me and I’ll often dampen one corner of the cloth with clean water to get rid of stubborn finger prints and dirt on an object.

Make sure that there is enough light to show the objects well, enough light on the background to wash out any dark shadows and that the whole object is surrounded by the white background.

The photo above was taken in a fried’s lounge, after sunset, using a camera mounted speedlight. I bounced the speed light off the white ceiling to give me a nice smooth, white flood of light. The softness of the reflected light also took care of any dark shadows.

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