If you take a lot of pictures of products or items and post them to Facebook, Pinterest of your own website, then you know how difficult it can be to get those images to a point where you feel that they are of a good enough quality to go on a website. You’ve probably experimented with using different kinds of backgrounds and lighting to make it as simple as possible, but even if you use a lightbox it can be difficult to accurately change your background to a pure white color without making the rest of the image look like it has been dramatically brightened. So, ideally, you want a solution that will result in a good-looking image, with a minimal amount of work. One easy way to accomplish this is to place your object on a white sheet of paper, in a white photo tent or lightbox, or in front of a white sheet. Unfortunately this will result in a grayish background color, which can be less than appealing. But with the use of the Levels tool in Photoshop CS5 it is possible to make the background white while preserving the color integrity of the rest of the picture.
Setting the White Level in Photoshop CS5
I have had the best results using this method with objects that contrast sharply with the white background. If you are photographing something crystal, white, gray or silver then this may not work as well. You can often get better results with those lighter-colored objects on a gray or black background, then adjusting the brightness and contrast manually. Since you will get less shadows with those background colors, there is usually less clean up work involved.
So here is the image that I am going to start with. It’s just a simple pair of Bluetooth headphones. I shot the image with the automatic setting on a point and shoot camera in a lightbox.
Step 1: Open the image in Photoshop CS5.
Step 2: Click Image at the top of the window, then Adjustments, then Levels. Note that you can also just press Ctrl + L on your keyboard to open this tool as well.
Step 3: Click the Sample in image to set white point button at the side of the window.
Step 4: Click on the point in your image that you want to set as the white point. I typically like to use one of the darker shadow areas, but you will need to experiment with different locations in the image until you find the best results. If you do not like the spot you have selected, you can always press Ctrl + Z on your keyboard to undo the change.
Step 5: Once you are happy with how the adjusted image looks, click the OK button on the Levels window to apply the change. My example image wound up looking like this.
Again, this is not the most professional or best-resulting way to do this, but you will end up with pretty good results in a lot of situations, and it will only take you a few seconds per image.
If you were looking for a way to change the background layer color on images in Photoshop CS5, then you can read this article for more information on how to accomplish that task.