I have multiple photos where I need to replace the background and shadows with pure white but I'm finding it rather tedious and difficult to do with the amount of small ares and objects that I need to get around, I'll include an example image. I'm wondering if there's an easier way to go about removing the background and shadows than going through each individual section and masking or selecting them one by one.
This is a perfect example of when channels are useful: Photoshop. How to remove all white space, background + unenclosed space
- Duplicate the Blue Channel in the Channels Panel
- Use Levels to boost contrast on the duplicate Channel
- Command/Ctrl+click the duplicate channel thumbnail in the Channels Panel to load a selection of it.
- Add a mask to the Layer in the Layers Panel.. ..BAM!
From here, it's slightly tedious. Due to the nature of the image, you'll need to go in with a brush and paint on the mask to bring highlights back rather than mask them....
But.. painting on mask to reveal is much, much, much, faster than trying to find the edges of all those parts. And you aren't going to find a one-step solution regardless of any method you choose. The highlights are just too similar to the background color.
Granted all of the photos have a dirty white background like in the photo and you want a "pure white", the easiest way would be to adjust colors with "levels" (ctrl+L).
In the levels control window, click the eyedropper tool to set the white point. Then click in a part of the image that is the "darkest" white.
This is a quick and dirty method I admit but may be good enough for some product-photos for webshops.
I guess that drawing paths for clipping is out of the question. Color based selections also do not work because there's highlights with the same color as the background and dark shadows.
I am sure that no automatic method exists except special pattern matching software, no idea who sells it. You must do it manually.
Try the quick selection tool with sharp few pixels wide brush. It's very smart to learn when you use Alt key to reduce the selection and Shift key to increase it. Its ability to learn still surprises me.
If you can reshoot the photo, then do it on a light table. Take two photos - one with backlight only and one with normal light. Use the silhouette to make the selection. You need an ultrastable camera stand and timed shooting.
One option still left is to make a fake - scattered pieces from a collection of well cleaned shapes.
If you're going to reshoot the pieces, include fewer of them in the shot, which seems like it might be for a catalog or another kind of listing. Words can deal with the quantity. When people are looking at a product like this, clarity trumps everything else. Finally, shoot at the very highest resolution you can, and when using the auto select tool, try going into "Select" and, with the background selected, > Modify > Expand. That gives you a dialogue box where you can choose how many pixels to expand this selection. This helps remove the annoying "edge lights" - at least that's what I call them. These are sometimes remnants of JPGs, the haloes that inevitably seem to swim into the background in the kind of shot you show. Hope that helps some, in addition to the other good answers.