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Photography Question 
Gregory Miller

Photoshop Selection Plugin

I take a lot of pics of Harley Davidson motorcyles, and I need a quicked and easier method of selecting the bikes to put in another background.

I am currently using the extraction tool, and it is taking me 4 to 5 hours per selection.

Is there a good selection/masking plugin out there for Photoshop?

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10/13/2008 10:03:30 AM

Try Chromakey.

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10/13/2008 11:24:03 AM

Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  Hey Greg, I shot bikes/cars for years so I know what you mean. Especially at a show when you got a lame car behind the one your focusing on.
If you're spending 4-5 hours you definately aren't utilizing photoshop me CS3 is OK at doing this, even with the small wires and details. Buy this can download a free trial I bet...Fluid Mask its what all the car show (HIN) guys and tons of graphic artists use...I shoot for fashion lines that use it for swimwear/lingerie...just try it and you'll buy it...4're NUTS here is the link.

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10/13/2008 4:38:37 PM

Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
  Can I see a sample image? That said, I realize most or even all will be different, but as Oliver suggests, 4 hours on a selection is a bit too long (3 hours maybe ;-). The problem I find with add-ons is that they are just another thing to learn, and, well, Photoshop has plenty to learn already. It may not be one tool that does the whole job. Extraction is sometimes a handy tool, but often I find it a starter, and, really, it shouldn't take 4 hours to use. If it is not a good use of your time there may be people who could do this for you in a more cost effective manner.

Learning to use Photoshop's tools (Extraction, but also masking, Calculations, layer modes, and Lasso play into more complex selections that I make), will probably do as much or more for you than a new package that you then have to spend time learning. They also end up being pretty expensive!

Beware of Automated Tools

Hope that helps!

Richard Lynch

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10/14/2008 4:51:47 AM

Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  Yeah, I agree with us one of your images. Cycles are difficult because the wires/cable and shine throw off the separation software. I photographed the bikes for the Biker Buildoff and it was taking me 1 hour a bike to completely separate and I had a model or the builder with hair to is VERY difficult.
Richard makes a great point in stating that this might be something you wanna outsource. Is it Cost Effective? I photoshop up images for magazines/model/wedding photographers/fashion lines and charge $75-$150/hour is it worth your time to labor over a single image for 5 hours?
Fluid Mask is easy to master but like Richard says its another tool to learn.

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10/14/2008 12:40:58 PM

Gregory Miller   Thanks a bunch for the responses. Here is a link to my site. Go to the Harley Central gallery

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10/14/2008 10:45:41 PM

Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  I owned 3 Honda F2s and 2 F3s for racing before moving on to Ducati & Aprilias, all great bikes.
I took a look and I'd research the tools photoshop has or download a free trial of Fluid Mask. There were only a couple photos you spent the time to separate the background...5 hours is WAY too long. Noticed you had trouble with the wheels on one photo. When I shoot for Magazines/TV Shows I am INSISTANT on finding a great location and cool background. The less time I need to spend on the background or the image the better. I learned a long time ago that if I spent 1 hour setting up the shot it saves me 10x's that in Post Production.

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10/14/2008 11:22:34 PM

Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005

One of the issues I find with this type of selection and replacement is demonstrated in several of the images you have on your site under the Harley section...really the first four. Perhaps you put those at the top of the list so they were easy to find as per the request, and it was helpful.

But here is the issue: even if you make a great selection of the bike, you still may have issues after a successful extraction in making an object look right in a new environment. I completely agree with Oliver, that setup will save huge amounts of time at the computer. Specifically, there is a lot of chrome on these bikes that reflects the surroundings, and pushing the selected bike onto a new background may not get you all the results and realism you may want. In my composites I like the lighting to match, backgrounds to blend, pieces of the image to make sense in concert. If items are just supposed to be graphic you have more leeway, of course. But in either case, it may not be enough to just get a good selection.

As far as selection, I can see pavement through the spokes on the bike with the blue background, and pavement, indeed, in the shadow. More importantly it is visible plainly between the spokes in the shadow, by the kickstand...etc. Perhaps you feel that may be picky, but if you are going to spend 5 hours just making a selection, I'm not the only one willing to be picky ;-) In this case I would have handled the shadow separately from the bike, using the real shadow as a template to burn a shadow into the new background...but even there, I'd need a tigher selection on the shadowed spokes. This difference in handling would make it more realistic, but even considering separating the shadow for separate handling might not be something that springs into everyone's mind. That is why selection alone isn't enough, and even with the hours you spent here, it seems to me that there is more to do. The lighting issue may be more subtle and more difficult simultaneously, so it is perhaps less in need of fixing, but still raises issues.

Knowing what you want to end up with will help in getting the results you want. If you know something is supposed to look like a studio shot, you can make decisions at the time you are making the exposures to reflect that, and likely save most of the time you would have spent making it look that way in Photoshop. I'm a Photoshop guy, but nothing can make or break a result like good shooting and pre-concept of a result.

So either way, I'm thinking there is more needed in planning the shot here than in getting a better selection tool.

Does that help?


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10/15/2008 5:15:20 AM

Gregory Miller   Thanks so much for the input. No Richard, I don't think that you are being picky. I have found in life, that you grow when someone shoots straight with you instead of sugar coating.

I have lately chosen to infasize the selection of the bike over location, so that I can shoot anywhere. The second pic in my Harley gallery was in a dumpy old parking lot. I saw the bike, made a u turn and asked the guy could I take some pics.

Also, I am choosing selection over location in order to be different. A biker may be more impressed with a selection pic than a location pic because of the novelty of it.

On a number of the pics, I was going for location, but grass is not good for selections, as you pointed out Oliver on the wheels on one of my pics.

Thanks guys.

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10/15/2008 9:59:20 AM

Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  Whoaaa Greg...
I have found in life, that you grow when someone shoots straight with you instead of sugar coating.
This is NOT completely true trust me...ALWAYS tell her she looks great in that dress or you find youself looking at my MAXIM photos

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10/15/2008 11:02:11 AM

Gregory Miller   I stand corrected. Soooooo true. On the other hand, looking at your MAXIM photos is not such a bad deal though. :)

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10/15/2008 11:19:18 AM

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