Southern Moon Photography, LLC 2012 | Jargon 4 - Chroma Key / Green Screen

Jargon 4 - Chroma Key / Green Screen

November 26, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

(Part 4/4) Photo Jargon Series

Chroma-Key Opens Up Infinite Possibilities

The Big Green Screen


We offer Chroma-Key Technology or Green Screen Photo Shoots! Now… Do you know what I’m talking about?  If you had to say “not really”, you are not alone.  Most people know, from watching video Documentaries and “How’d they do that” educational shows, that many scenes in Hollywood movies are often filmed against a big green screen. They also understand that those images are then “cropped” and placed “in scene” and edited for seamless blending.  This same technology can be applied in a photography session.  There are many different ways that this technology can provide an infinite variety of possibilities for Unique and Creative finished photographic productions with as little inconvenience as possible for the everyday household and business needs.

Chroma-Key Photography is so convenient because it brings the scene to you!!!  All that is required to produce the images is a basic knowledge of lighting and color management.  A large Solid Single Colored screen (usually 8’X10’ or bigger) is stretched behind the subject(s) on a lightweight frame. We use a pole and beam set-up originally developed for use in Pipe and Drape Displays.  Lights are then placed to reduce shadows and give a consistent shade to the backdrop while fully lighting the subject(s).  For the best finished look it is wise for the photographer, whenever possible, to have an idea of the scene lighting for the finished image so that the lights can be placed in the set-up to mimic the lighting in the final picture.  This will make the image look more natural and avoid looking fake.  Finally the subject is posed and captured against the Solid Colored Background.  The most common colors used for this type of photography are Green or Blue.  When Chroma-Key photography is being utilized subjects should avoid wearing the same color as the background, however a knowledgeable and competent Graphic Artist can “select” parts of the picture that they do NOT want to be removed from the finished picture.

Many programs can accomplish the task of separating (cropping, cutting) the subject(s) from the background.  Imaging that a picture is like a cut-out paper doll and it has accessories to interact with the doll and panoramic boxes to move the doll around in. The doll is like the subject after separating the green screen from the picture, the accessories are anything that you want to add to the image like a shadow, angel wings, or magic flying carpet.  Finally to create the finished picture you put the doll on its accessories and place them in the Panorama, or in the case of a digital photograph, you place the picture onto the flying carpet and put both of them onto the background image.                           



As you can imagine, the possibilities of WHAT can be created are only limited by, well… your imagination!  So if your son is fascinated by Outer Space he can have a picture of himself standing on an alien planet, or if your daughters favorite Princess is Jasmine you can have a picture of her riding that magic carpet to the Arabian Castle created! 


Chroma-Key Photography is an invaluable tool for use in business product photography. By isolating the objects within a picture, designers can quickly combine like products or show multiple aspects of a single product within a single image.  Additionally those products can be placed within a background or can be saved in a format that preserves the shape of the “cut-out” product picture (such as a .png) so that it can be then overlaid on existing elements like web-site scrolling backdrops.  These Cut-Out images can have text “wrap” around them to create interesting compositions or another effect applied to them like a “Glow” or “Stroke” (outline) around their parameter.


One drawback to Chroma-Key Photography is that children, especially very young ones, can often be fearful of this strange big screen.  It is frequently found to be big and intimidating to toddlers who don’t understand what it is.  The lights can make them feel like they are being put on the spot, and with nothing to distract them or interact with they can become antsy and want to run off the backdrop as quickly as possible.  The best way to overcome this is for a trusted mentor or parent figure to stand close to the child and encourage them to relax and follow instructions.  Another way to help a nervous youth to relax during a Chroma-Key shoot is to show them an example of what you are working to make the picture look like when it is done. Children have active imaginations so once they get the picture they often do a better job than adults of getting into character.


Just because you choose to have a Green Screen Photo Session doesn’t mean that you have to have all the images placed onto a background.  These types of sessions produce images that are easier to work with for special effects such as color isolation. With fewer colors to manipulate the Graphic Artist can more effectively pull out (remove) all colors except specific ones.  Finally because of the consistent tone of the photographs Chroma-Key Images tend to look fantastic as Black and Whites or Sepia Pictures.

I would like to add that this technology is especially nice to create expressive artistic images as well as pure photography.  This is something I as a US Citizen am truly proud to offer.  To me the freedom of speech is probably my favorite right. This right allows us to not only speak our heart and mind, but to go beyond speech and to express ourselves through our art and self-presentation, relaying not only an idea, but the passion that we each feel for that idea.  In closing please accept my wishes for a safe and expressive Fourth of July!!!



Written and Developed By: Sarah Whitscell June 29, 2014

All Rights Reserved By: Southern Moon Photography, LLC


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