Most of us would have taken photos where the blue sky in our photo isn’t as blue as we had hoped. Perhaps it was a hazy day, or the photo was taken with the sun shining in the wrong direction (see my article on light ratios for landscapes).
Or we might want a different background to appear behind an object that we have photographed.
Here’s where Adobe Photoshop comes to the rescue. There are a few selection tools in Photoshop we can use to pick out exactly what we need.
Method 1: Color Range
Using the Color Range feature, we can select the portions of the photo that we wish to darken. Adjust the Fuzziness slider until only the parts we want are selected. Once selected, use the Curves command to darken the area.
Method 2: Magic Wand
Before using the magic wand, fine-tune your Tolerance setting so that we select only what we need.
Method 3: Quick Mask
The Quick Mask method is one of my favorites because it’s quick and easy to fine-tune. Hit the Q key to activate Quick Mask mode, then select the Brush tool. Start with a bigger brush size to cover the larger areas, then switch to a smaller brush to paint in corners or in small areas. The keyboard shortcut for controlling brush size are the [ and ] keys.
Method 4: Pen Tool
Use the pen tool in Photoshop to draw bezier curves around the object, and then in the Paths palette, click on the Load Path as a Selection icon (3rd icon from the left, at the bottom).
Once the subject (the hands in the photo below) is selected, you’ll have the flexibility of placing them on any background you wish, or on a digitally created background (as in both examples below). The photos below were photographed by Andy Lim and submitted to Shutterstock.