I think someone skilled in photoshop can do all the things you suggest thus avoiding the use of the green screen...
Actually, using the green screen makes the photoshopping much easier. Or whatever other color is not to be found in your subject. You can then easily select the background without including the subject, or vice versa as needed. Simplest case, you can do something like replacing green with a selected other color that may be found in your subject and which, unlike the original background, will be absolutely monochrome and without shadows (often a major desideratum with product photos.).
Most of the online tutorials, sadly, are aimed at shooting videos. Assuming that green is the color needed for simplicity (it will work as well with blue, red, etc.) the basics are:.
Get a pure green cloth. (That's what's meant by "chroma green"). Avoid colors like lime, which will introduce unneeded complications when learning. Among commonly available fabrics most "Kelly" Greens are close enough to pure green to work..
Fabric should be as smooth as possible. Small wrinkles won't kill you, but it's best to eliminate all the complications you can. You can steam iron it, or hang it and use a clothes steamer. Or you can go ahead and shoot for learning purposes if the wrinkles aren't bad enough to cast shadows..
The background should be far enough behind the subject that when your intended lighting of the subject is established no shadows are cast on the background. Also, ideally it should be out of focus..
Back ground should now be brighly and evenly illuminated, without shadows, using separate lights from those on the subject. A flood focused on the background from each corner thereof (4 floods) at an angle of ca 45 degrees will generally work well. (For a small background, one on each side may work, a "copy lighting" setup..
Shoot and check your results.
WillWill PrattBarrick Museum, UNLV..
Oops. Forgot half the question. Photoshop Elements will work very well. Fair warning, the included manual is drastically incomplete, not even mentioning most of what you need to know. Get a good "Photoshop element for dummies" type book. Then get "The photoshop elements 5 book for digital photographers" by Scott Kelby for more advanced techniques..
WillWill PrattBarrick Museum, UNLV..
Will, Thanks. I think you're right on target with what I want to do. A few months ago, I did a little research on the topic of Chroma Keying, specifically with Sony Vegas. I'm familiar with the concept, though I have never actually done any chroma keying. What I expect is the process to be fairly simple. From what I've read, for most projects, good software will do 90% of the work, with the final touches and details left to the skills of the person using the software..
I originally started writing this post claiming that I was trying not to purchase PhotoShop... but then I found out that CS3 can do HDR and Stitching, two things I am looking forward to experimenting with... but this is another topic..
Here's what I've found so far that can do what I want:.
Http://www.backdropsource.com/products.asp?mcid=18&mcdesc=softwareContains 2 different products, which are actually photoshop plug-insOnes is $200, the other is $300.
There's also this program, which looks promising:http://fxhome.com/photokey/.
PhotoKey I hope will do what I want. The great thing is fxHome offers a trial of the software..
I will also try to find ways to do what I need in Photoshop, since it's already paid for. However, if given the choice between spending a lot of time on each photo in Photo Shop or paying for a program lie PhotoKey which can automate most of the process, I would probably choose PhotoKey..
If anyone else knows of other options for software, or a source for digital backdrops you like, please let me know...
I originally started writing this post claiming that I was trying notto purchase PhotoShop... but then I found out that CS3 can do HDR andStitching, two things I am looking forward to experimenting with...but this is another topic..
In CS3, as long as the background is evenly lit (actually two lights, one from each side will do it, you don't need four as the other poster suggested) you can use the background eraser tool to remove the background, then drop your new background in as a new layer and you're done..
The background color just needs to be one that's not in the foreground. Chroma green is just a specific hue of green, as is chroma blue, you could pick any color, including white- the big thing is that you don't want it in the edges of your subjects as you background erase around them, especially their hair..
You might look at Mask Pro 4 from onOne software..
Subject isolation is easy...except for hair!.
If you don't have any flavor of PS yet, get PS Elements 6 (or even one of the old versions, like PSE5 or PSE3). They all have several tools for selection. 6 has a Magic Extractor tool. And all have the Magic Wand, Selection Brush, and Quick Selection Tool. Until you understand the limitations of these basic tools, it's hard to select an add-in that will do better..
Charlie DavisNikon 5700 & Sony R1HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..
Thanks for the helpful information! As a side note, I'm overall pleased with the warm reception in the forums here. This site has a lot of good information and good people. Thank you. I'll try not to deluge you guys with too many n00b questions... I'm pretty "green" when it comes to photography, though I'm learning quickly with the help of the site..
Mask Pro 4 offers a trial version - A definite plus! I'm not sure if there will be any noticable differences in quality between the available software. The two standalone applications cost the same..
As for using Photo Shop with the magic wand and other selection tools, I have found this process to be beyond my grasp in the past. I'm sure that someone who has been doing it a while can learn to perform the cropping in PS quickly and with minimal effort. I read a tutorial somewhere else that explained how to remove the background using the different color channels... but I think I'm still a little ways off from doing this. I understand what the color channels represent, but I haven't quite grasped how to use them..
A quick and dirty program is ideal for me, as between school and work, there isn't much time for learning hobbies such as this. The quality will be a definite factor, of course...