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Lightroom Background Edit

Discussion in 'Digital Image Editing & Printing' started by Pandora, Aug 20, 2019.

  1. Pandora

    Pandora Member

    I recently took what I think is a fairly nice shot of my horses head using my iPhone. The lighting wasn’t brilliant so using Lightroom on my laptop I’ve made some adjustments. The only thing I haven’t been able to do is edit the background which is rather cluttered. I found a really good tutorial by an equine photographer on You Tube which shows how to make the background black using Lightroom but when I try to follow this and adjust the contrast etc it changes it for the whole photo. Any ideas what I’m doing wrong?
  2. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Have you selected the head first using the lasso tool?
  3. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Ho ho ho. Witty but not helpful - unless the non-classic version of LR does have a lasso tool.
  4. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Lightroom does not have very selective selection tools, unlike photoshop and many other editing tools. They added the ability to refine the automask in selective adjustments according to luminance value or colour but this is still quite a blunt instrument for making large adjustments to one element of the picture and leaving other neighbouring elements unchanged. It very much depends on what your original looks like as to whether you can accurately mark the background and then edit it. Adobe leave that kind of manipulation to photoshop.
  5. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Believe it or not I didn't even make the connection! :confused:

    Several stints as a trainer taught me that beginners often miss the most basic steps in a process.
  6. beatnik69

    beatnik69 Well-Known Member

    You could use the mask brush on the background and reduce the exposure on it. It won't make it black, but will make the horse's head stand out more.
  7. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Serendipity then :). Was funny even if you didn't mean it.

    Lightroom isn't an editing program in the sense that many other programs are. You can selectively adjust areas of the image by painting over them but the mask tool doesn't explicitly select edges. It tries to pick pixels of similar brightness/colour to the pixels at the centre of the adjustment brush but with considerable averaging. Recently Adobe added some crude mask editing tools so, for example, if you add a gradient filter and you have a [dark] hill sticking up above the sky line you can now tell the gradient filter not to apply to the hill but it is pretty crude. If you have a complex tree shape instead of a hill against the sky then keeping that unaffected by the filter would be difficult.
    Andrew Flannigan likes this.
  8. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    Can you share the link to the youtube video? Hard to know what you're doing wrong without knowing what they do, and exactly what you then do.
  9. Pandora

    Pandora Member

  10. peterba

    peterba Well-Known Member

    Since you are (as you state in post #9) a "novice user of Lightroom", I suspect that you've missed something fundamental. It sounds to me as though you haven't invoked the adjustment brush, and therefore you are making global adjustments, rather than local adjustments. If the contrast for the whole photo is changing, then this must be where the problem lies.

    Had you invoked the Adjustment Brush (prior to attempting contrast adjustments) by clicking on the icon? (alternatively, pressing the 'k' key will do the same).
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
  11. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    That video is pretty clear, although I couldn't make out the shots of the screen very well. Why people choose to broadcast what the inside of their house looks like beats me.

    1) This is Very important - start with a picture of a horse against a black background. The video on the phone is very over-exposed. That horse (nice horse) is in sunshine with the inside of the stall unlit.
    2) Force the darkest part of the picture to black. I think she increased contrast and reduced exposure but she rather flew over the controls.
    3) Use the clone tool to select from a dark area and paint out the bits of the picture you don't want. She set options to fix the sampling point, brush size and feathering (that's how quickly the edges fade ) flow and opacity. These last two determine the density of the overpainting. The brush can paint (cloning) or heal. The first mode overlays from a sample point. The second tries to remove any object inside the brush circle and replace it with its surroundings. The sample point by default follows the brush movement so she set an option to fix it.
    4) Use a new heal tool (clone tool in heal mode) and tidy up bits of dust/lint whatever.
    5) Use the adjustment brush to refine the eye. This brush lets you paint areas with almost all the basic edit settings to boost exposure etc. on parts of the image. She used several brushes - there is a "new" button to create a new one otherwise the settings apply everywhere the brush has been.
    6) Use the gradient filter to further deepen contrast. Although this is most often used from top down to darken skies you can apply it in any direction. The filter shows as 3 lines on the screen. Whatever adjustment is applied fades from the top line to the bottom line (you can rotate the whole thing) so if the lines are close together you get a "hard" filter with a fast transition. If the lines are far apart you get a "soft" filter. Again there is a "new" button to make a new (second, third ..) filter and she used several to deepen shadow across the horse from the left.

    The only reason she could do this in Lightroom (point 1) was the original set up. It would not work if the horse was in a field or if it had been a dull day with lights on in the stall. The "normal" way to change a background is to use an editing program to "cut out" the horse and separately edit the background and the horse before putting them together again. This takes some skill.

    I reckon she spent quite some time on this. I'm surprised that such rough cloning works out. For example she left the clip from the groom's lead attached to the harness and smudged out quite some hair but if she starts with a high resolution image then size-reduces it for use on the screen then these imperfections get lost. A big A2 print would probably show the adjustments up.

    Good luck! Post your attempt - it will be interesting to see how you get on. The secret is little and often, use a small brush on the image viewed at a high magnification like she did. If you try cloning out big areas with a big brush it is easy to make a mistake.
  12. Pandora

    Pandora Member

    Thank you for your very detailed reply. I’ll go back to the beginning and will take a photo with a darker background in the stable and then give it a try! The photo I took was outside so I understand now that this just wouldn’t work. Here’s the original photo with nothing done to it. It was just an unplanned snap on my phone hence the god awful background! Cropped to just his head and if I could get rid of the background and just brighten it up etc I think it could be nice . 5015F27A-50C7-4EFD-88D1-E9E60C8C9985.jpeg
  13. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    One of the first steps people take is to understand that the picture isn't made up of what is in the centre of the frame - the tendency is to look at that and nothing else, particularly with portrait shots. It takes a while but if you get in the habit of looking all around the edges of the frame before you take the shot that helps you decide whether you move your feet to get a better angle and less distracting background.

    No - all you could do, with a massive effort is to paint the background white which would look most odd. In other programs you can cut the horse out and replace the background with something else - but not with Lightroom.
    Pandora and EightBitTony like this.
  14. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    I dunno if it's any use to you, it's quite small, and it's not a great example of removing a background.


    Photoshop or an equivalent is the best tool for this job, with someone with more skill and patience than me. But Pete has it right, knowing in advance what you want to do with the shot and then taking the shot that helps you achieve that is the right approach.
    Pandora likes this.
  15. Pandora

    Pandora Member

    Thank you for that it’s much better without the awful background!

    Thanks to you and Pete for the help and advice.

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