Photoshop: Get crisp white backgrounds

From portraits to still-life shots, murky backdrops are all too common, so find out how to make yours bright and clean in this Photoshop video, writes Jon Adams.

You may set out with a pure white wall or a white paper roll as a background to a shot, but by the time you’ve lit your subject, chances are it’ll turn out dull and grey. If you’re shooting indoors, the only way to counter this in-camera is to make sure the background is lit separately from the subject, but for many photographers, the budget and space needed for a three- or four-light rig is out of reach. To fix the perennial problem of dull whites, here’s an easy Photoshop fix that only takes a few minutes to master.

Published in Imaging Skills
  1. Jon, thank you for this great tutorial. I have tried this a couple of times now and it works really well. I used the same approach to create a black background too. I won’t post the photos on FB as they are child portraits so you’ll have to take my word for it! The first time I tried the white background, I’d photographed the subject in front of a frosted window. Unfortunately I had included in the photo the black window seal which would not disappear when I turned it white. Is there any way of getting rid of the blacK?

  2. I’d need to see the image to give a fully accurate response, Joanne, but if you simply want to remove the seat and replace it with the pure white you have in the rest of your background, then it’s time to get the paintbrush out!

    Create a new Layer, and then select the Brush tool. Set it to white by hitting D then X. Now zoom in tight on the the seat, and paint it out. You’ll need to be really precise in areas where the seat butts up against the subject, so use a very small brush and take your time.

    Don’t worry if anything goes wrong – your white paintjob is isolated on a separate Layer, so you can remove any areas that ‘go over the edge’ with the Eraser tool.

    Hope this helps, Jon

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