Studio Photography and Digital Backgrounds

The article given here was written for Adobe Photoshop 5,6,7,CS, and Adobe Photoshop Elements 2 and 3.

Most photographers who are serious about improving their portrait taking skills have realized that a beautiful background can greatly enhance their photographs.

Muslins are a very popular choice among professionals. However, they can get very costly at several hundred dollars each. For the professional who is well established, this may not seem too much, but for the hobbyist, this may be a stretch.

A less costly alternative is a digital background. With a digital background, one can get the look and feel of a professional looking portrait without the additional cost of muslin.

Many Photography websites also sell digital backgrounds on cd. In some cases?as low as $15.00 dollars for an assorted collection. As with anything else?you usually get what you pay for. Some of these pre-made digital backgrounds are not worth the cd they're printed on, but some of them are very beautifully made. Even so, you may be wondering how YOU can make your very own digital background. That being said, the following information will help guide you along the way.

Okay, let's create a digital backdrop using Adobe Elements 2.0. We will create an 8x10 300dpi (dpi = dots per inch or ppi = pixels per inch) digital backdrop. For printing purposes, 300dpi is strongly recommended for a high quality print. This will also create a large file approximately 20.6megs.

Having a fast processor (Pentium 4 or Athlon XP) and at least 256megs of ram will definitely help. Also having your screen resolution on your monitor set to its highest setting 24 or 32bit will give the best results.

Okay let's begin! If you haven't already opened Photoshop Elements, do so now.

1. Click on File < New. When the window opens up,make sure to set it to 8x10 inches at 300dpi.

2. Make a copy of the background layer you just created by pressing Control-J on your keyboard. If you look at the bottom right corner of your monitor, you should see an exact copy of your background layer named layer 1.

3. Select the "foreground" color for your background by clicking on the foreground square on your toolbar? the black one. (Bottom left)

4. The Color Picker window should now be open. Select a light red by clicking on the top right corner of the color palette. Click ok.

5. Now select the "background" color by clicking on the background square on your toolbar? the white one. (Bottom right)

6. The Color Picker window should open again. Select a darker red by clicking halfway below the lighter red you previously chose. Click ok.

7. Now comes the fun part! Let's put some clouds in there. On the top of your screen, click on Filter

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