Eliminating Backgrounds

African Crowned Crane in take-off mode

Take-Off!

San Diego Wild Animal Park 2017

First you need to have a sharp shot and it isn’t that easy. Right after the bird takes flight is your best chance and here the crane’s foot is just barely touching the ground.

Then you need a background that enhances your subject. Sky is always good if you can manage it. But if not and you have a hodge-podge, then use the pen tool to outline your subject. It is time-consuming but worth it. You might need to have your image at 500 or 600% to see the tiny feathers or hair. I hit save frequently. And I don’t do the entire outline at once. I make several selections and cut the background out each time. That way I don’t get to the end and find that my selection has gone hay-wire.

Here are the steps: once you have opened your image. You can adjust it now or later.

Select the pen tool…Just the plain one. It’s the first one.

Enlarge your photo.

Start outlining with the pen tool. When you have the photo enlarged to 700%, things look a mess and you might not know where you are. To orient yourself, just reduce the size until you have an idea of where to go next.

Don’t worry about areas of background that are surrounded by hair, feathers, etc. You can go back later and get them using the same technique.

After I’ve done a good bit of the outline, I make a large circle to come back to my starting point, make my selection ( go to paths, click on the upper right symbol, click on make selection, OK with 1 pixel modification, go to Edit>cut.

Make a new layer and repeat until you have your selection complete. Making new layers eliminates the chance that you will lose all of your work, but still it is a good idea to hit save now and then.

I’ve got plug-ins to do this for me but this is the most sure way.

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