Lighting for the best extractions can be tricky! Here are some tips that can help you get the most from your images.
Place one light on each side of your subject with modifiers like umbrellas or softboxes. Having soft, balanced light means you’re less likely to have shadows or hot spots on the subject and background of your image, which can be problematic during the extraction process.
You can minimize shadows by placing your lights higher than the subject and pointing them down slightly, as well as making sure they’re at a 45 degree angle between you, the light, and your subject. This won’t eliminate the shadows, but it will push them low and off to the side so they’re out of your frame.
Minimize the amount of spill by placing your subject at least 4 feet from your background. Check the angle of your lights in relation to your camera to make sure the light isn’t hitting the background and bouncing into your lens. There shouldn’t be a direct line from a light to your camera lens. Over or underexposing the image can cause more spill problems, so set your exposure “down the middle” for better results.
Test the light using the spot meter. Point it at each side of the subject’s face and their forehead, as well as different spots on your background. The light on the face should be even and ideally metering at F8. The background should be metering one stop below the subject's face.
Light coming towards the camera from the direction of the background will cause multiple issues with background removal because your chances of spill light bouncing into the lens is much higher. Having any light source behind the subject creates a halo around the subject, which can make it difficult for background removal algorithms to detect the edge. Not willing to part with your hair light? We’ll cover them in an upcoming post!
These tips are guidelines based on the millions of images we've extracted over the years, but each setup is unique and the best way to know if your setup will yield good results is to submit an image for a free Image Analyzer report. We'll rate your photo on 7 key factors and work with you to perfect your setup.