I usually use an
Alpha Channel to remove backgrounds in images like these.
This is a rough example, but if you take care to be detail specific, the results will be spot on.
If your image is a background layer, double click the layer and name it whatever.
Go to the
Channels panel (
Window > Channels) and select the layer with a high contrast. I chose the Blue layer in this example.
Duplicate this layer by dragging it to the
Create New Channel icon, or right clicking and select
Duplicate Channel... You can name this whatever, but this will be your
With the new channel selected, go to
Image > Apply Image. Make sure the blending mode is set to Multiply and adjust the opacity to 75 - 100% whatever looks ok.
Break out the brush tool [
B], select black as your color, and paint the areas that are definitely going to show through at 100% opacity. For instance the fingers, hand and head at the right side of the photo.
Change your brush
Blending Mode to Overlay, and brush the light & fine hair areas. With Overlay as the mode, you'll be able to darken the fine areas without getting the background too.
Switch the color to white, to brighten the gray background without affecting the black strokes.
When you are happy with the masking,
Inverse the selection (Ctrl + I) to make the mask white.
Ctrl + click to Select the alpha channel mask as a selection. Then go to your layer panel and create the mask.