Photo courtesy of Sarah & Abraham
Before you read anymore, click on Sara’s link above!! An adorable website and boutique that specializes in children’s stationary, birth announcements and invitations for baby showers & birthday parties! Ok, now for the real deal…Sara contacted me looking for some photoshop tips for her product photography. I was happy to share some basics! So here we go…
Lighting is absolutely the most important thing you can do for your product shots. Natural light is usually best for paper products along with proper studio lighting. Sara sent me the shot above untouched. The first thing I do is “auto levels” located in ‘image’ > ‘adjustments’. In my personal experience, this works about 80% of the time (automatically adjusting the tone/depth/color of the image). You can tell when “auto levels” is completely off because it leans toward a certain tone (mostly magenta/red/green). You will have to determine what the true color of the image is. I went ahead and assumed this was correct…
Above, you can see the difference in the original and then “auto levels”. If the image was off slightly with color tone, like the whites were too red then I would adjust the color balance afterwards (also located in ‘adjustments’). Then, zoom the image to 100% and clean up any marks, dust spots, etc with the ‘bandage’ and ‘clone’ tools (2 tools down from bandage). The difference between the two tools – ‘bandage’ imitates color/texture/pattern in pixels, ‘clone’ imitates color & pattern. I use ‘bandage’ most of the time, however, ‘clone’ is great for spots around edges. Play around, you’ll definitely see a difference.
After cleaning up, I adjust the contrast between the lights and darks using ‘levels’ manually. You can do this through ‘adjustments’ but I like to use the mask option below so I can paint my adjustments in. Click on the black and white circle…a window pops up with options, click on ‘levels’. It will automatically pull up the ‘levels’ window for your adjusting. I slide the middle notch to the left as well as the right notch to the left just a tad to boost the highlights and overal lighten. Press ok and it creates a layer with mask. You can use the paint brush (black) to paint back the highlights or original light. You use black to paint since the layer’s mask is white.
This tip is also great for white/solid color backgrounds. You can lighten the background so the white is clean and flaw free and paint back the object. When finished, I merged the layers. Below, back to the black and white circle > ‘brightness’. To add a little pop to the overall image, I slide the notch to the right to add brightness. You can also paint back. Another great tip for white backgrounds or solid color backgrounds.
Sara’s concern was loosing the text on the pad of paper in the process of brightening or making whites white. You can click on the ‘history brush’ tool (below the ‘clone’ tool) and then click the layer/box in the history tab of the preferred darkness that your text was. Zoom in to 100-150% or more to see the text and paint back just the text.
Extra note! My tools (paint brush, clone tool, history tool) are usually set at 100% flow but only 5-50% opacity to control my blending. Some adjust both, it’s your preference. Basically, you want to avoid edges created.
There are tons of resources and classes out there. But if you have somewhat of an understanding and want to diy your own photos (and avoid technical reading material), Making It Lovely shows you some of her tips for photographing your own products – Part I & Part II
I hope that helped some of you!!