Add Space to Your Studio in Photoshop

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Editor’s note: Due to technical issues we’ve lost the images on this article. Our sincerest apologies.

No matter how big your studio is, chances are it’s not big enough. I shoot on a piece of white vinyl 5 metres wide. I’ve talked about the photographing side of what I do already and now I’ll share a couple techniques I use for editing – and sometimes rescuing – studio photography done the white seamless way.

1. Open your raw image in LR and create a virtual copy.

2. On the first image, I play with the sliders until I’m happy with exposure, blacks, clarity (oooh how I love that little slider), etc. For this image, I want the final result to be very contrasty, sharp, maybe a bit comic book superhero-y. So that’s where the second virtual copy comes in. After editing the first so it’s still realistic, I go to the second and click ‘previous’ to copy the same treatments of the first image to the second.

3. After making the second image like the first with ‘previous’ button, I then do some more drastic things. I’m not worrying about what it does to his face – I just want the chair and the krinkles in his jeans to stand out. Part of what I did was increase the clarity. And this is what I end up with:

4. Export the photos and open then in PS. Yes, I know – I only use PSE – don’t laugh at me! Layer the darker image over the lighter. I used the ‘overlay’ blend mode, opacity 20%. Here is a close up:

5. I’m actually quite happy with the look of his face. If I hadn’t been, I would have use the head from one of the layers instead by erasing the unwanted layer, but it’s ok because it turned out well. Sometimes I play further with the layers, seeing what will happen if I adjust the contrast, brightness, blur or sharpening of the layers to see what happens. Then I flatten the image in the layers palette.

6. Now we need to correct the edges where the paper and light stands got in the way. I just use a brush and for the colour, I take periodic samples with the dropper tool to make sure I’m using the right shade of white. Then, I crop around the subject using a ‘no restriction’ size so as to make sure that I’m including all the floor shadow I need.

7. Now the part where you make your studio look like an unlimited amount of space. I got this idea from Zack Arias and I use it regularly, especially to make children look smaller in proportion to their surroundings. Ok here goes. Use the crop tool again but after it has selected the whole image, drag it out in any direction you want. Make sure that in the colours palette on the left, white is still selected as it was when I did the dropper tool before.

8. And you end up with this:

9. Now, take your computer screen and turn it down towards the keyboard a bit. You’ll be able to see the delineation between the shadows and the white. Sometimes after doing this space-extending crop, there is a line between the white of my original image and the white of the added space and you’ll need to take care of that, otherwise it will show in printing. But I find it useful to look at the image on the screen from all different angles – you’ll be surprised what pops out at you.

This technique can be used for images with any solid colour background. I commonly do it with black as here:

And there you have it. You’ve edited your photo and added space to your studio from the comfort of your own computer chair!

Read more from our Post Production category

Elizabeth Halford is a photographer and advertising creative producer in Orlando, FL. She wrote her first article for dPS in 2010. Her most popular one racked up over 100k shares!

  • Since discovering this site a couple days ago, I’ve learned more from the info shared (including this “Add Space to Your Studio in Photoshop” article) than from all the how-to photography related books I’ve read. I love the practical, hands-on current tips and challenges, which seem to be good for those of all levels of expertise. Thanks to all who contribute to this site.

  • What great information! I can’t wait to try this! So you do the whole crop to add the white space part in PS? Just making sure. Thanks for your help!

  • P W

    Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  • What a fantastically simple idea – I knew about extending my image but had never considered using it this way. Great tip – thanks.

  • You can also spot issues on white images by using a radical Levels adjustment layer.

    Create the new adjustment layer, and then move the black slider way off towards the right. This should mean that the subject and any shadows and dust spots become almost black. You can then use the dodge or burn tools on the main layer to soften any shadows and blend in any lines between the added white section and the original image. When you’re done, just turn off the new adjustment layer.

  • This is fantastic, and extremely simple, and kind of one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” things. Sometimes it gets so easy to leave yourself limited to the camera’s frame, but stretching outside that box a little bit can really make a good composition a GREAT one – particularly for photographers like myself who have limited space.

    Also, I love Maynard’s technique for spotting problem areas on the white backgrounds – thanks for that, I’ll definitely be using it!

  • Jim

    This concept inspired me to update a boring picture I took the other day for my personal photo a day challenge. I was having trouble getting it to look right using your method (also trying to adapt it for photoshop vs. lightroom) and I remembered a cool Photoshop CS4 tool that I read about in Scott Kelby’s Photoshop CS4 book called Content-Aware Scaling.

    The technique avoids the delineation you talk about in step 9 and also works for simple but non-uniform backgrounds. If you are interested I wrote about it when I posted the photo: http://www.engsoc.org/~jrobinson/photog/?p=163

    I made this:
    [eimg url=’http://www.engsoc.org/~jrobinson/gallery2/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=6545&g2_serialNumber=1′ title=’main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=6545&g2_serialNumber=1′]

    into this:
    [eimg url=’http://www.engsoc.org/~jrobinson/gallery2/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=6543&g2_serialNumber=1′ title=’main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=6543&g2_serialNumber=1′]

  • I just had to do the same thing as the shoot had to happen in the owner’s loft.

    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/photographyburns/4290838510/’ title=’Nelly and Max’ url=’http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4030/4290838510_42b1988cdc.jpg’]

  • LOVE IT!!!!! I did a baby shoot (using a giant Starbucks mug as a prop) this afternoon and this technique will work so perfectly! I shot in a cramped apartment with very little space to move. Thanks! I’m so excited to start editing now!

  • @Allison: please come back and show us!

  • I actually used this technique this week. I shot the portraits below in the clients loft with enough room for about 4′ of background.

  • My studio is teeny tiny and this tip will come in very handy!

  • Here is my use of this technique. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Whoops…here’s the photo (I hope)

    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/36771766@N03/4301623356/’ title=’IMG_9681 copydigital’ url=’http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2560/4301623356_7ebd13befa_o.jpg’]

  • Whoops..here it is (I hope)

    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/36771766@N03/4301623356/’ title=’IMG_9681 copydigital’ url=’http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2560/4301623356_7ebd13befa_o.jpg’]

  • I can’t seem to post the photo…..I’ve tried a couple times. Last try….then I am giving up.

    http://i846.photobucket.com/albums/ab27/teaganphotography/IMG_9681copydigital.jpg

  • 8Kyqv2 veqdsxjpiivd, [url=http://lfgnkabbrjjx.com/]lfgnkabbrjjx[/url], [link=http://ndvfrtntudux.com/]ndvfrtntudux[/link], http://ygobuyytftgb.com/

  • Kelley

    I don’t have Lightroom , but I do have Photoshop. Will this work in PS?

  • @Kelly – yes, I go to Image / Canvas Size in PS4 and pick the relevant canvas extension colour. Doing it this way you have to know roughly the dimensions / aspect ratio you want, whereas with the crop method you can possibly visualise it a little better.

    I use it to add a black or white border to pics too.

Some Older Comments

  • Jason Lloyd February 18, 2010 11:43 pm

    @Kelly - yes, I go to Image / Canvas Size in PS4 and pick the relevant canvas extension colour. Doing it this way you have to know roughly the dimensions / aspect ratio you want, whereas with the crop method you can possibly visualise it a little better.

    I use it to add a black or white border to pics too.

  • Kelley February 1, 2010 12:54 pm

    I don't have Lightroom , but I do have Photoshop. Will this work in PS?

  • uambptyax February 1, 2010 06:51 am

    8Kyqv2 veqdsxjpiivd, [url=http://lfgnkabbrjjx.com/]lfgnkabbrjjx[/url], [link=http://ndvfrtntudux.com/]ndvfrtntudux[/link], http://ygobuyytftgb.com/

  • Allison January 25, 2010 06:38 am

    I can't seem to post the photo.....I've tried a couple times. Last try....then I am giving up.

    http://i846.photobucket.com/albums/ab27/teaganphotography/IMG_9681copydigital.jpg

  • Allison January 25, 2010 06:35 am

  • Allison January 25, 2010 06:34 am

    Whoops..here it is (I hope)

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/36771766@N03/4301623356/' title='IMG_9681 copydigital' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2560/4301623356_7ebd13befa_o.jpg']

  • Allison January 25, 2010 06:31 am

    Whoops...here's the photo (I hope)

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/36771766@N03/4301623356/' title='IMG_9681 copydigital' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2560/4301623356_7ebd13befa_o.jpg']

  • Allison January 25, 2010 06:26 am

    Here is my use of this technique. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Jenera January 23, 2010 06:45 am

    My studio is teeny tiny and this tip will come in very handy!

  • Brandon Burns January 21, 2010 10:07 pm

    I actually used this technique this week. I shot the portraits below in the clients loft with enough room for about 4' of background.

  • Elizabeth Halford January 21, 2010 06:30 pm

    @Allison: please come back and show us!

  • Allison January 21, 2010 02:15 pm

    LOVE IT!!!!! I did a baby shoot (using a giant Starbucks mug as a prop) this afternoon and this technique will work so perfectly! I shot in a cramped apartment with very little space to move. Thanks! I'm so excited to start editing now!

  • burningphotography January 21, 2010 02:05 pm

    I just had to do the same thing as the shoot had to happen in the owner's loft.

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/photographyburns/4290838510/' title='Nelly and Max' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4030/4290838510_42b1988cdc.jpg']

  • Jim January 21, 2010 12:30 am

    This concept inspired me to update a boring picture I took the other day for my personal photo a day challenge. I was having trouble getting it to look right using your method (also trying to adapt it for photoshop vs. lightroom) and I remembered a cool Photoshop CS4 tool that I read about in Scott Kelby's Photoshop CS4 book called Content-Aware Scaling.

    The technique avoids the delineation you talk about in step 9 and also works for simple but non-uniform backgrounds. If you are interested I wrote about it when I posted the photo: http://www.engsoc.org/~jrobinson/photog/?p=163

    I made this:
    [eimg url='http://www.engsoc.org/~jrobinson/gallery2/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=6545&g2_serialNumber=1' title='main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=6545&g2_serialNumber=1']

    into this:
    [eimg url='http://www.engsoc.org/~jrobinson/gallery2/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=6543&g2_serialNumber=1' title='main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=6543&g2_serialNumber=1']

  • Amandalynn Jones January 20, 2010 06:29 am

    This is fantastic, and extremely simple, and kind of one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" things. Sometimes it gets so easy to leave yourself limited to the camera's frame, but stretching outside that box a little bit can really make a good composition a GREAT one - particularly for photographers like myself who have limited space.

    Also, I love Maynard's technique for spotting problem areas on the white backgrounds - thanks for that, I'll definitely be using it!

  • Maynard January 19, 2010 06:05 pm

    You can also spot issues on white images by using a radical Levels adjustment layer.

    Create the new adjustment layer, and then move the black slider way off towards the right. This should mean that the subject and any shadows and dust spots become almost black. You can then use the dodge or burn tools on the main layer to soften any shadows and blend in any lines between the added white section and the original image. When you're done, just turn off the new adjustment layer.

  • Stuart January 19, 2010 02:49 pm

    What a fantastically simple idea - I knew about extending my image but had never considered using it this way. Great tip - thanks.

  • P W January 19, 2010 10:33 am

    Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  • Stephanie Stewart January 19, 2010 04:50 am

    What great information! I can't wait to try this! So you do the whole crop to add the white space part in PS? Just making sure. Thanks for your help!

  • Julie January 19, 2010 03:26 am

    Since discovering this site a couple days ago, I've learned more from the info shared (including this "Add Space to Your Studio in Photoshop" article) than from all the how-to photography related books I've read. I love the practical, hands-on current tips and challenges, which seem to be good for those of all levels of expertise. Thanks to all who contribute to this site.

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