I have already shared how to create black backgrounds earlier, but, this one is going to be slightly different as we will also discuss a bit about the original exposure and which shots lend themselves well to a white background.
Do not confuse a white background with a high key image. High key images are those that are mostly light and white which is not true for just a white background image.
We will go through the process of making a white background in Lightroom, Photoshop (with and without Topaz Mask AI) as well as ON1 Photo Raw.
Yes, I have recently installed the trial version of Topaz Mask AI and so far, not very impressed as far as wildlife is concerned. Still learning more about it and experimenting…
This would also give us a reasonable comparison as to what one can do with each.
So…This is an image from my rooftop shooting today and this is what we will use in this session. Let’s start with this in Lightroom and then we will look at the same in Photoshop and finally in ON1.
First, the shot itself. As you can see from the base EXIF, this is overexposed specifically for a white background. I have avoided the wall behind the bird and it’s mostly the floor of the roof in the background. The angle of the shot is just over the bird to do this.
Similarly, when you have grey and/or overcast conditions, you can always look to overexpose a bit to create similar effects. Even low light conditions are good for this as long as the subject is close enough. In this case, the bird is just 6 meters away.
Now that we already have a dull background, let’s see how we can make this image pop a bit…
First, we apply my wildlife preset to this and tweak it a bit for a white background. Then, as with the black background, we use the adjustment brush and mask the background around the bird and then pull up all these sliders to make it white.
Do keep in mind that we can only do black or white in Lightroom, anything beyond that, you would have to look at some other application.
Okay, now, let’s remove the mask and try the same in Photoshop. First the select subject. Now, let’s try the Topaz Mask AI
Finally, let’s do the same in ON1 Photo Raw…We will use the local adjustments here with the perfect brush which is the equivalent of the auto-mask in Lightroom.
One of the commonly asked questions is what should I use to clean the lenses. Most people are fine with cleaning the camera with some kind of cloth, but, are wary when it comes to lenses.
Yes, we do have the lenspen and a variety of kits around and most of those work fine. Over a time period, I have found a better solution to cleaning my gear…Camera body and lenses.
I use plain isopropyl alcohol swabs, the kind we use in the medical field for cleaning up before and after injections. For larger work, like the camera body and the outer part of the lenses, I use Zeiss lens wipes which are larger in size and have more “juice” on the wipe.
To wipe off the lens element, I use a lint-free glass polishing micro-fibre cloth rather than any simple micro-fibre cloth. Ideally, the cloth you use which not look like a towel and should be smooth. Very similar to the kind you get when you buy spectacles.
For the camera and lens body, almost any absorbent, fine micro-fibre will do. Just dab around with the cloth and try not to wipe the gear using pressure on the cloth.
Let’s see how we can clean up our camera and lens…
Make sure you have the camera mount and lens rear cap ready
Remove the lens from the camera and put the caps on the lens and the camera mount
Let’s start with the body and use a Zeiss wipe since one wipe can do the entire camera body
We use the same wipe for the lens body or another if needed
Now, let’s clean the camera mount contact using a swab. The swabs are generally almost dry. Remove the cap from the camera body. Make sure the camera is pointing down (we don’t want any dust to float in) and wipe the contact area with the swab and put the cap back on
The lens elements now…Front and back. Like the in earlier video for sensor cleaning, I would not advise you to use the swab on the lenses unless you can see some spots or fingerprints. A simple jet of air and, if needed, just gently wipe the elements in a circular motion using the polishing cloth. If required, then, use one swab to gently wipe the front and/or back elements, wait for a few seconds and then wipe the elements with the polishing cloth.
Now, remove the cap from the camera mount. Use the blower to blow out any dust from the inside of the camera while keeping in down. Blow out the rear element of the lens and put the lens back on the camera.
Ideally, don’t even wipe the lens without using a blower on it first. There might be particles on the surface of the glass that might scratch the element while being wiped across. The same applies to the viewfinder and LCD glass.
Since we are using alcohol, it will evaporate almost instantly in the case of the swabs and in a few seconds when using the Zeiss wipes. Remember not to use excessive pressure on the swabs or wipes when using then. Since we already have alcohol on them, additional pressure will not do anything.
When I am outdoors, I prefer using the blower with either the lenspen or the polishing cloth to clean up any fingerprints or dirt that might have fallen on the front element.
Since I did not clean the contact areas, that is all that I will actually clean here…The rest is “understood” types 🙂
As a wildlife macro photographer, I have learnt the hard way that even a single dust spot on the sensor could, potentially, totally ruin a photograph.
While this is not really a major issue for non-macro photography, over some time, this can impact other genres as well.
For the last few years, I always check for sensor dust before I leave home even when I am not going for a macro session.
I have devised my own method for checking for dust and cleaning it. This is what I will demonstrate here in this video.
First, make sure you have a fully charged battery in the camera. In case we need to clean the sensor, a fully charged battery is required. Also, since this is what I do before I move out to shoot, it is always a good idea to have a fully charged battery anyway.
Make sure you have a fully charged battery
Put the lens you are going to use on the camera body
Stop down to the minimum aperture you would use. Most lenses would stop down to around f/22 or f/32.
Set the camera to manual mode, set the ISO to 100 (base ISO) and shutter speed to around 6 or 8 seconds.
Make sure the camera is not focussed to the light source we will use to check for dust
Release the shutter while waving the camera smoothly around the light source
A friend of mine wanted to figure out how I would approach cleaning up this bird image using Lightroom and Photoshop.
Although I already had some videos on this earlier, but, this time around, I thought it might be nice to compare this relatively simple task in ON1 Photo Raw 2020 as well. After all, this is the kind of work I had purchased ON1 for.
The following video demonstrates how I would clean up the image using Lightroom and Photoshop. Ideally, I would do all the raw adjustments in Lightroom and then take the image to Photoshop.
In the following video, I try the do something similar in ON1 Photo Raw with the same image.
I think most wildlife photographers and birders would find these videos useful.
As already mentioned in an earlier video, with some bug fixes and updates, ON1 seems to be a nice package.