Simple green screen shots

Bernice photographed Cissy holding her camera, then went online and found this image of Lady Gaga. After dropping out the background, Bernice dragged the image of “paparazzi-in-training” Cissy on its own layer onto the image of Lady Gaga.

The best way to understand “layers” in photoshop is to photograph someone against a plain background, make a selection around that person, then drag them with the move tool onto a new document or a picture.

The backdrop should be lit as even as possible.

The color of the backdrop can be any color but blue and green are often used simply because most folks don’t have blue or green hair, making them stand out and easier to select.

Setting up

Cissy(right) poses against our makeshift green screen. The classroom is lit by florescent lights and AWB setting on the camera did a decent job. Backdrop was lit by tungsten flood lights.

Your type of lighting for the backdrop isn’t that important.

I used our tungsten flood lights on 2 light stands and spaced the lights out evenly.

What is important is that it’s it’s even.

A simple way to check this is to meter the entire background in little portions with a zoom or walk in close and fill the frame with the backdrop.

If you’ve done a good job lighting, your meter should read the same f-stop across the entire background.

Don’t sweat it if your backdrop has wrinkles.

Chances are if your subject is darker or at least 2 f-stops darker than the backdrop, those wrinkles won’t show up.


In Photoshop, you have 2 choices for selection tools.

Magic wand tool

Either the Magic wand tool or the Color range command will work.

You’re going to select the backdrop and then you’ll choose inverse leaving the subject selected.

Color range is also a good choice for selection of an even backdrop

Since there are many ways to make a selection of elements in a picture, your choice of tools will depend a lot on your subject.

I recommended the “magic wand tool” or the “Color Range” command. Both are easy to use.

If the initial click doesn’t select the whole backdrop, you can hold down the “Shift” key and click to add to the selection.

If you use the color range command, then click on the eyedropper with the “+” sign and click to add to your selection.

A closeup of the selection shows the green tint--contamination of color from being too close to the backdrop

Key point to remember.

Keep your subject as far away from the backdrop as possible to minimize the light striking the green backdrop which will bounce back and tint your subject’s hair and clothing.