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No, that is not exactly what the patent is for. The background can be any color, the main part of the method is in the use of a transparent table on which the subject is positioned and the arrangement of lighting.
So this is interesting, on March 18th the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted a patent to Amazon covering a specific method to achieve the common photographic technique of capturing an image of a subject against a plain white background.
The elevated platform is configured with a top surface made of a material that can include, but is not limited to a plastic, such as Poly (methyl methacrylate), which is commonly known as "plexi-glass," and/or any other materials that possess a degree of transparency as well as reflectivity. Such a material produces an effect in images and/or video of the subject such that a reflection of the subject appears beneath the subject but where the top surface of the elevated platform blends seamlessly into a true white background.
It should be appreciated that a background of any color may be chosen and due to the positioning of the various elements in the studio arrangement, light emanating from the background reflects off of the top surface of the elevated platform, into an image capture device positioned according to the disclosure, and causes the top surface of the elevated platform to appear the same color as the background
Prior art solutions for achieving such a result for capturing images and/or video of objects set against a true white background include solutions that often involve some type of image retouching, post processing, “green screen” techniques, or other special effects and image and video manipulation to achieve the result of an object set against a true white background. Accordingly, as will be described herein, embodiments of the present disclosure provide a studio arrangement in which an object can be photographed and/or filmed, and the images and/or video captured by the camera achieve the effect noted above without any image manipulation due to the particular arrangements of the subject, camera, lighting and background.
But this herd of critics is missing the main point: the patent is not just about the color of the background. The patent filing describes the specific technique and lighting placement needed to achieve a "near perfect" seamless white backdrop, including a slight reflection, in a single shot.
Photographer Ken Rockwell explained the discrepancy in a May 27 blog post. He calls it a "very clever" technique that "saves loads of time making studio shots" by eliminating the need to add or adjust the reflection using Photoshop or other programs.
If photographers don't shoot subjects just right, he explains, they need to spend time creating a fake reflection in postproduction. The new method speeds up the process, allowing photographers to eliminate postproduction time and therefore work more cost effectively.
Critics have also been pondering the point of the applying for a patent that will be nearly impossible to enforce. This point is fair -- unless studio photographers start to advertise that they're copying the technique. If they do that, Rockwell pointed out, they "might be hearing from Amazon."