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How to change a background in Photoshop for still life or food photography

The post How to change a background in Still Life or Food Photography Photoshop first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Ana Mireles.

Food photography is all about communicating an ambiance or mood. Plating, styling and props will help, and using the right background can be a long way to tie everything together. Learn how to use Photoshop to change the background without having to buy a new one.

change-background-in-photoshop

Having the right background for every shot means a lot of tabletops, pieces of wood, linen, etc. These things cost and take up a lot of space. If you do not have the budget or storage capacity, this article can help you. By making a good selection and using layers, I will show you how to change your background in Photoshop.

An accurate selection is the key to changing your background

First you have to be able to work separately on your background, for this you have to select this. There are many selection tools in Photoshop, feel free to choose the one you want. However, I recommend the Pen tool for more advanced selections. If you need some help with it, check out: Why learning the pen in Photoshop is worth it.

Image: use the Photoshop selection tools to change your background without affecting your subject

Use the Photoshop selection tools to change your background without affecting your subject

If you are satisfied, you can duplicate the layer by going to Menu-> Layer-> Duplicate Layer.

Now add a mask by clicking on the Make Mask button at the bottom of the panel. Because your subject was already selected, the mask is made with that shape.

From now on your changes will only be visible in the background that you had selected.

If you want to better understand masks, view Photoshop Masks 101.

change-background-in-photoshop

With Photoshop layer mask you can change the appearance of your food photography background

Change the colors to simulate a different background

Now you can freely adjust the background using adjustment layers that control the color, brightness, hue, saturation, etc.

Simply click the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel to see all choices.

Because you are working on separate layers, your original remains untouched and you can always go back to it if you do something that you are not happy with.

Image: Photoshop has many adjustment layers to choose how you want to turn your background into food ...

Photoshop has many adjustment layers to choose how you want to change your background in food photography

You can add as many layers as you want. For example, I adjusted the hue and saturation and then added a warming photo filter. Make sure you always apply the mask to the layer (not the background), otherwise the adjustments will be displayed throughout the image.

A white background is easier to change

For this option, you must have a texture to hand before you begin. You can buy them on stock photography websites, or you can make them yourself. I find it useful to photograph fabrics, wood, stones or anything that I can use later, so that I have many options available. For inspiration and details you can read how to create your own unique structures and apply them to your photography.

Image: With a white background you can record textures and change the background of your food ...

With a white background you can record textures and change the background of your food photography

Select the background as in the other example, only this time it might be easier because of the contrast created by the white background.

User-friendly selection tools such as Quick selection or Color range can save you a lot of time, just pay attention to the edges and details.

Always zoom in to refine your selection. Then save it by going to the menu Selection-> Save selection.

change-background-in-photoshop

A good selection helps you only change the background with Photoshop tools

Apply your texture as a new background

Now add the texture that you have chosen for your new background. You can do this by going to Edit-> Places if you want it as a smart object. However, if you do not want to change it, simply stick it on top. Anyway, it will create a new layer on top that covers your original image.

Place or paste a texture in Photoshop to use as a new background in your food photography

To make your subject visible, load the selection that you have saved by going to the Selection-> Load selection menu. Then click on the Add Mask button as in the first example.

Load a selection and add a mask to see the food in the background

Integrate your new background

Now you can see the cherries, but they look a bit fake. Change the layer blending mode to improve this. I think Multiply is very good at this.

If you want to know more about blending layers, view this comprehensive guide to Photoshop blending modes.

Once you have done that, you can also adjust the coverage. The photo now feels natural due to the shadows.

Use blending modes to record the background and make it more realistic

And you're done.

It is so easy to change your background in Photoshop!

If you want, you can continue to work on making it more dramatic or moodier. Use adjustment layers, filters and more structures until you get the desired effect.

change-background-in-photoshop

With Photoshop you can use layers, filters and textures to create special moods in food photography

I hope you enjoyed these ideas and found inspiration to keep trying different things.

Go outside and give it a try, and share your photos with us in the comment section!

And to further improve your food photography, I will leave you a list of some great articles here.

Recommended values

  • If you feel more cunning, try easy and affordable homemade backgrounds for food photography.
  • Keep in mind that you also need some props, so check out these tips for do-it-yourself photography props with a limited budget.
  • And when you're ready to really jump in with both feet, don't miss the dPS Ultimate Guide to Food Photography.

change-background-in-photoshop

The post How to change a background in Still Life or Food Photography Photoshop first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Ana Mireles.

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