I thought that I needed a nice photo of the orrery.  The ones I had taken were OK but I wanted something more.  Still, it’s a big pain to get an appropriate backdrop, set up lights, etc. but then I realized: when I bought Pinnacle Studio, the box came with a sheet of green screen material to use with the Chroma-Key feature. Well, that’s just what the doctor ordered.

I draped that over a bench in the living room one evening when Mel and Erin were out shopping for prom shoes and then gathered several reading lamps from all over and placed them appropriately.  I put the orrery onto the green screen and snapped away.

I then did some photoshoppage (GIMP actually).  There is a command where you can simply replace one color with another and so when you have a green screen like that you just take out the green and replace it with something much darker to give all the emphasis to the orrery.

Naturally, this did not go perfectly – nothing ever does.  I learned something that all photographers and movie makers already know: that uneven lighting and/or wrinkles and folds in your green screen will cause the resulting image to have not one shade of green but many.  True, they’re all green and I guess the reason that the “green screen” is the outlandish green color that it is is that you almost never encounter that shade of green in normal life.  So in the end, I had to do some extra work to capture all the shades of green that were present but it worked out well anyway.

I did go back and smooth out some wrinkles and even up my lighting to make the color replacement a bit easier.  It also turns out that the orrery itself reflected some green in its surface so that if you replace all the green you end up replacing some of the pixels in the orrery image itself.  In the end I just had to be satisfied with that and not many people notice it.  The image looks way better than the ones where you could see living room stuff in the background and perfection would have taken much longer and probably required more sophisticated equipment. 

Life’s all about balance – you have to decide when something’s good enough.  If you want perfection, you won’t actually get very much done.

My photo looks good.

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