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06-12-2009, 06:44 PM   #1
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Green screen vs White screen backdrop

When the weatherman points to icons and numbers on the screen, he's really just waving his hand in front of a green screen and the weather map is added in digitally.

I am trying to shoot some products for our website and handouts (computers) but the budget for this sort of thing is virtually nill, so improvising is what it has come down to.

I bought a white vinyl roll up blind at a hardware store, 55x60" and used it as a backdrop for some photos.

Online and in our brochures the photos of the computers will be on a white background. Now our lighting is medicore (plenty of sun coming in through the window and some small halogen spot lights on the ceiling) and it is impossible to get the white backdrop to appear pure white to the camera. Not to mention the shadows created by the computer, monitor etc...

Since some of the products are lighter in color and the backdrop has some subtle shadows, I can't simply use the magic wand tool to select the white background and delete it. (It ends up missing parts of the background or selects parts that I don't want removed).

Now, would using a green screen instead of a white one improve "performance" and make it easier for cleaning up the image? As it stands now I have to go around every line with the eraser to clean up the edges.

Thanks!

06-12-2009, 06:48 PM   #2
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can you post an example? It's always easier to offer advice on this sort of thing if "we" have a starting point to work from.
06-12-2009, 07:02 PM   #3
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Here is the setup.
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PENTAX K10D  Photo 
06-12-2009, 08:41 PM   #4
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Can you afford $50 maximum in supplies? Based on what you're shooting I think the following will be more than adequate...

Shopping list:
2ea. 48" dual tube fluorescent strip lights (plugged variety)
4ea. 48" T-12 25W "Kitchen and Bath" fluorescent tubes.
1ea. King size bed sheet *white*
Chain, wire or twine and some hooks to hang the lights from the ceiling.
Thumb tacks (or duct tape!) to secure the sheet to the wall.

- Now then, move that table out of the way and use the blind to cover the window - we only want ONE temperature of light striking the subject.
- Next, attach the sheet to the wall with the top edge at about 3 feet up letting it drape down and flow out onto the floor similar to the blind in your photo but we want more sheet on the floor than we do on the wall (I'll explain in a minute).
- Hang the fixtures from the ceiling so they are no higher than about 4 feet off the ground - we want big bright light for soft (if any) shadows. Hang one about 1 foot from the backdrop/wall, the other 4 to 5 feet in. (You may want to do some test shots before "mounting" the 2nd light)
- Place one of the computers on the sheet with its backside at least 18 inches from the backdrop.
- Get low and squeeze off a shot.

If you've set everything up right and the white balance is good, you should end up with a nearly shadow-free photo with really good details and no glare coming off the monitor.

It's not a perfect setup, but it should work really well for the type of product you're shooting. The 48" fluorescents will put out a ton of light and are physically big enough that any shadows created will be very soft.

Worst case - it doesn't work and you've got a new sheet and some great shop lights.

06-13-2009, 09:33 AM   #5
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Try the extract tool rather than the magic wand tool. It's much better for this sort of thing.
06-13-2009, 09:48 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Venturi Quote
Can you afford $50 maximum in supplies? Based on what you're shooting I think the following will be more than adequate...

Shopping list:
2ea. 48" dual tube fluorescent strip lights (plugged variety)
4ea. 48" T-12 25W "Kitchen and Bath" fluorescent tubes.
1ea. King size bed sheet *white*
Chain, wire or twine and some hooks to hang the lights from the ceiling.
Thumb tacks (or duct tape!) to secure the sheet to the wall.

- Now then, move that table out of the way and use the blind to cover the window - we only want ONE temperature of light striking the subject.
- Next, attach the sheet to the wall with the top edge at about 3 feet up letting it drape down and flow out onto the floor similar to the blind in your photo but we want more sheet on the floor than we do on the wall (I'll explain in a minute).
- Hang the fixtures from the ceiling so they are no higher than about 4 feet off the ground - we want big bright light for soft (if any) shadows. Hang one about 1 foot from the backdrop/wall, the other 4 to 5 feet in. (You may want to do some test shots before "mounting" the 2nd light)
- Place one of the computers on the sheet with its backside at least 18 inches from the backdrop.
- Get low and squeeze off a shot.

If you've set everything up right and the white balance is good, you should end up with a nearly shadow-free photo with really good details and no glare coming off the monitor.

It's not a perfect setup, but it should work really well for the type of product you're shooting. The 48" fluorescents will put out a ton of light and are physically big enough that any shadows created will be very soft.

Worst case - it doesn't work and you've got a new sheet and some great shop lights.
Thanks for the reply. I always thought fluorescent lights were undesirable to shoot under. In that case I can simply move the setup to our tech room.
06-14-2009, 01:15 PM   #7
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Iwonder.. instead of treating shadows as my enemy, would it perhaps be better to embrace subtle reflections and shoot on a semi reflective base such as white-backed plexiglass?

06-14-2009, 01:36 PM   #8
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Upon looking at my pictures shot under the flourescents... the first thing I noticed is that the angles at which I took the shots from are all different Other than that, slightly overexposing the shots really helps to blow out the white background and the subtle shadows really don't hurt the image at all and virtually eliminates the need to erase around edges.

I'll have to take my tripod to work so the shooting position stays the same from system to system, and also mark the location of the systems on the background so I get the same angles each time.

Frustrating to get home and see what went wrong, but definately a good learning experience.
06-14-2009, 08:54 PM   #9
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Also, to eliminate or cut down greatly on any shadowing affects, you can improvise a backlight or fill light and that should handle that issue as well, you can try using a halogen or fluorescent desk light or something like that. Best of luck on your shots!
06-14-2009, 11:12 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wolfsfire Quote
Also, to eliminate or cut down greatly on any shadowing affects, you can improvise a backlight or fill light and that should handle that issue as well, you can try using a halogen or fluorescent desk light or something like that. Best of luck on your shots!
If you do this, try to use the same light source or type of bulb in your lights. When you mix different lights, you can get weird color casts that are a PITA to correct afterward. It's much easier to use one color temperature light to start out with.
06-14-2009, 11:14 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by sebberry Quote
Now, would using a green screen instead of a white one improve "performance" and make it easier for cleaning up the image? As it stands now I have to go around every line with the eraser to clean up the edges.

Thanks!
The whole idea behind using green or blue screens, is that those colours are probably not going to be in the forward item you are shooting, so exactly. Obviously, you can't wear green or blue clothing, or have an item with the same colour as the screen. When I need a green screen, I just buy the gaudiest fluorescent green paint I can find that's on sale.
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