Masking in PP problem

Started 5 months ago | Discussions
Briansdad1
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Masking in PP problem
5 months ago

I often want to obscure the background of a portrait that was too sharp and or cluttered on the original. I am aware of many masking techniques available. (I use Corel Paintshop Pro X6 mostly these days which has similar options as other PP popular software.) But, with all of the the margins around hair problematic with the many individual hairs and small clusters getting drawn into the mask or background being left out of the mask. I clearly over extended the mask in to the figure in this case. But much less leaves an awkward fringe of background. The image below is not the best example overall but the hair part applies. (I could have done better in other areas e.g. the nose.) I could just claim I when for the softness effect I guess. Does anyone know techniques that would improve on results?

Curious George Is In Trouble!

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kkardster
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Re: Masking in PP problem
In reply to Briansdad1, 5 months ago

By posting your modified image, we don't really see what you see is missing. Perhaps if you posted the original as well someone might give it a go to see if they can help you improve on the masking.

I also use PSP and have had similar issues - here's my workflow, which I think must be able to be improved upon:

  1. Use the magic wand select tool to select either the foreground or background, often piecing it together by holding down shift (to add) or ctrl (to subtract) areas that I click on.
  2. Once I have the majority selected, I'll switch to the free-hand selector and use one or more broad captures to ensure that any obvious "misses" are included.
  3. I'll then zoom in and do the same along the selection edges to adjust them where necessary.
  4. Finally, if necessary, I'll invert the mask to change the focus.

The above can be very time consuming...

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sherman_levine
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Re: Masking in PP problem
In reply to Briansdad1, 5 months ago

Perhaps take a look at fluid mask

http://www.vertustech.com/fluidMask/overview.html

Sherm

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Robiro
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Re: Masking in PP problem
In reply to Briansdad1, 5 months ago

Briansdad1 wrote:

I often want to obscure the background of a portrait that was too sharp and or cluttered on the original. I am aware of many masking techniques available. (I use Corel Paintshop Pro X6 mostly these days which has similar options as other PP popular software.) But, with all of the the margins around hair problematic with the many individual hairs and small clusters getting drawn into the mask or background being left out of the mask. I clearly over extended the mask in to the figure in this case. But much less leaves an awkward fringe of background. The image below is not the best example overall but the hair part applies. (I could have done better in other areas e.g. the nose.) I could just claim I when for the softness effect I guess. Does anyone know techniques that would improve on results?

Curious George Is In Trouble!

From what I have been seeing, FZ200 is actually capable of background defocus. Should have stepped back a few meters, zoom to 400 or even more and opt for f2.8. You would have gotten blurred background.

In order to avoid this painful post processing, people are eventually drawn to larger sensors. Some venture into m43 world and buy some f1.8 lenses. Some even go full frame.

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Robiro
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Re: Masking in PP problem
In reply to Robiro, 5 months ago

Robiro wrote:

From what I have been seeing, FZ200 is actually capable of background defocus. Should have stepped back a few meters, zoom to 400 or even more and opt for f2.8. You would have gotten blurred background.

In order to avoid this painful post processing, people are eventually drawn to larger sensors. Some venture into m43 world and buy some f1.8 lenses. Some even go full frame.

Sorry, just noticed your camera is FZ70. So, no f2.8 available to you. Still, zooming to 400mm or so and keeping fastest aperture possible would have helped.

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Briansdad1
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Re: Masking in PP problem
In reply to Robiro, 5 months ago

Yes, I'm sure I could have managed more background defocus. But, I don't always take the shot the way I wished I had. (Make that "I often don't take the shot I wished I had.) The issue still remains for shots I want more defocus, muting of colors or even replacing.

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Briansdad1
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Re: Masking in PP problem
In reply to sherman_levine, 5 months ago

I'll take a look at this and get back to you later.

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Briansdad1
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Re: Masking in PP problem
In reply to kkardster, 5 months ago

Unfortunately, I no longer have the original of this image. What inspired this post is actually a portrait of my wife but she does not want me to post her image. She has long, very full hair, quite beautiful I'd say. There must be miles of individual hairs to mask to get it right. the background is god-awful but all shades of green. Of course, I can always do another shoot and plan better. But, I'd like to improve on this task if i can. I've used the work flow you describe before but in this case the time it would take is daunting - still she's worth it. Just wondered if I was missing a trick or two.

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Briansdad1
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Re: Masking in PP problem
In reply to sherman_levine, 5 months ago

Wow! If it works as advertized that would be the ticket. I downloaded the trial but, frankly, I don't think i can swing the $150 for the plugin. I will report on what i think of the trial though.

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Darrell Spreen
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Re: Masking in PP problem
In reply to Briansdad1, 5 months ago

Briansdad1 wrote:

Does anyone know techniques that would improve on results?

My technique is pretty much the same as KKardster's and is time-consuming. However, I have one extra trick I have used which I thought worked very well. When I have finished the selection the best I can and have the (almost) finished picture, I use about a 70% blur brush with a very small radius and go around the outline of the person -- usually twice or three times. This obviously blurs the outline edge of the person, but it also blends the edge into the background and makes the transition much less noticeable.

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Erik Ohlson
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Re: Masking in PP problem
In reply to Darrell Spreen, 5 months ago

Darrell Spreen wrote:

Briansdad1 wrote:

Does anyone know techniques that would improve on results?

My technique is pretty much the same as KKardster's and is time-consuming. However, I have one extra trick I have used which I thought worked very well. When I have finished the selection the best I can and have the (almost) finished picture, I use about a 70% blur brush with a very small radius and go around the outline of the person -- usually twice or three times. This obviously blurs the outline edge of the person, but it also blends the edge into the background and makes the transition much less noticeable.

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Darrell

I'm not sure - I have not tried your method - but I may get similar results by blurring different parts of the background at different amounts, and selectively blurring some areas with the "Blur-(brush)" tool, rather than blur-filters.

We may be describing the same thing in different words.

Basically, I'll blur a sort of "Halo" around the head only a little - then maybe a wider halo and then the rest, or just the rest of the background. Sort of trying to reproduce what limited depth of field does, by having the parts closer to the subject less out-of focus than things farther away.

Then the blur brush to specific things in the background that stand out too much.

Individual hairs can be a REAL problem, and I'm not above trimming a few, and emphasizing some which are easier to deal with so the observer sees hairs and so (hopefully) doesn't notice how few are there.  

Sort of like doing studio portraits decades ago: focussing on the eyes with long-focal length lenses in shooting portraits with 4x5" or 5x7" film: it was well recognized back then, that if the eyes are sharp, the observer will unconciously perceive the whole face as sharp.

Back then we were fighting too much "bokeh", now we're fighting too much DOF.  

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Briansdad1
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Re: Masking in PP problem
In reply to Erik Ohlson, 5 months ago

Erik Ohlson wrote:

Darrell Spreen wrote:

Briansdad1 wrote:

Does anyone know techniques that would improve on results?

My technique is pretty much the same as KKardster's and is time-consuming. However, I have one extra trick I have used which I thought worked very well. When I have finished the selection the best I can and have the (almost) finished picture, I use about a 70% blur brush with a very small radius and go around the outline of the person -- usually twice or three times. This obviously blurs the outline edge of the person, but it also blends the edge into the background and makes the transition much less noticeable.

-- hide signature --

Darrell

I'm not sure - I have not tried your method - but I may get similar results by blurring different parts of the background at different amounts, and selectively blurring some areas with the "Blur-(brush)" tool, rather than blur-filters.

We may be describing the same thing in different words.

Basically, I'll blur a sort of "Halo" around the head only a little - then maybe a wider halo and then the rest, or just the rest of the background. Sort of trying to reproduce what limited depth of field does, by having the parts closer to the subject less out-of focus than things farther away.

I like this idea. I've always just gone for an more even blur.

Then the blur brush to specific things in the background that stand out too much.

Individual hairs can be a REAL problem, and I'm not above trimming a few,

Been there, done that.

and emphasizing some which are easier to deal with so the observer sees hairs and so (hopefully) doesn't notice how few are there.

I've even created a few rather than try to trace a mask exactly over the barely visable hairs already there,

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