Shoot: Comparing Backgrounds, Light, and Angles

 

Fine Art Compositing

 

Lesson Info

Shoot: Comparing Backgrounds, Light, and Angles

let's get started with our lovely model thank you so much for doing this I needed a redhead and she came to my rescue okay so let's have you step on the backdrop cadence right this is cadence she was the prettiest name in the whole world was so obsessed with it so what you're going to do is almost nothing just stand there I know that's what everybody likes to hear right thank you for turning the lights down so first we're just going to work with some natural window light here I would almost always work with natural window light so I'm not going to play with too many lights today I'm not goingto I mean we might you know yank out this thing I don't know what that's called that they so we might do that but for right now let's play with a couple different things first of all I want teo go ahead and play with backdrops so one of the most important things as we've just discovered is having the right backdrop so just like I didn't shoot those sticks on the correct backdrop and made everything...

really really hard shooting something on the correct backdrop is fantastic but how do you know which backdrop to shoot on ah lot of that is just based on what's the color of what you're photographing and how dark or light is it and then how can you find a contrast ing background so what we have here is a white backdrop and we have the luxury of a redheaded model so I requested that specifically because of how wonderful red hair is red hair is great because it's not blonde which would fade into the white it's not dark which would be great for contrast ing on white but not so much on a dark color but red seems to just be the perfect combination of colors that cuts right out and you're like yeah I know that's why my hair's red I dyed my hair red yes your last year is like the best decision ever oh so what we're going to dio is just take a simple simple portrait here and we're going to compare what a few different backgrounds look like we have a black backdrop is well and that's going to work pretty well depending on how much we liked her so how much we pull her toward the white because I can see already that there's some fall off happening here so she'll probably stand out pretty well from a dark backdrop but the other thing that I really want to pay attention to is the green backdrop that we have here so underneath all of these layers is a green backdrop justly a green screen and the reason why that's so popular is because it's not often that anybody has green anything I mean maybe you're right and green piece of clothing but your hair isn't usually green your skin isn't usually green let's hope not and so if it's not then that means it's going to contrast in a lot of different ways so green could be really awesome for cutting something out of a background and it's cheap too because all I do is go to the fabric store asked for a couple of yards of some green fabric and then there you go you don't have to have a super fancy backdrop or anything like that um I prefer the studio a home studio kind I should say so I'm going to get set up here I'm just going to take a quick portrait and see how we're looking no error ok is just blinking error actually what we're what we're stopped that be great we did have a question coming in earlier and I apologized to whoever it was I don't have it saved here but they were asking about how often you do shoot on backdrops versus out in the field just what's your thought process of deciding which one to do at any particular yeah I will try my best to go out to a back to the actual backdrop that I'm going to be using and I love doing that because that means that I'm actually there and I can feel what it feels like to be that character in that space and that's something that I am always really drawn to but more and more I've been finding that this space is that I want our spaces that I can't get teo not even because of my geographical location just because of certain weather that I need like a foggy field instead of waiting and waiting and waiting to find another foggy field I will then instead just pull one that I already have and use it that way and that allows me to shooting consistent light whenever I want to shoot instead of waiting for a specific time of day and you know that's going to allow me to shoot just more consistently just whenever I want yeah do you ever use the same like foggy field from that shot in another shot er yeah ok it's not obvious so that's good I like you so yeah that that book shot that we showed a couple times here with that foggy field that's actually from a picture that I published three years ago that I had shot multiple images in that field and I had it was a shot where I was running away from the camera in that field and so I had multiple images of my body close to the camera midway from the camera behind so I had all these different focal points already kind of built into that chute that I saved so I use that from time to time and there are a couple of really neutral backgrounds that all use sometimes and try to change it up a little bit yeah but I love a neutral background it's just the best thing okay let's get back to shooting on this backdrop and we're going to try to just take a really simple portrait here okay so we've got a nice simple image and this is the first backdrop that I can already see works really really well so what we have is the red hair that is lit well enough to stand out from the background but I think that this is just too simple so her hair is like so beautifully done and it's falling really nicely but we can see that there isn't a lot of separation in her hair in the background so like right here it's really thick and it's beautiful but it's not really giving us a lot of separation in the hera's though if we were doing that which would be a lot crazier so can I have you take your hands and just foot beer here out to the sides and I will shoot that so once second get my focus okay whenever you're ready good okay so now we have two things going on here we have hair motion which is causing motion blur as well a separation between the hairs so because we have that on this white background that gives us two challenges one is that using a tool like refine edge and photo shop that's going to sort of be like hey you messed up I don't like motion blur so that's bad but doable and then we have the separation between the hairs which gives us more of a challenge of actually cutting out more of the white instead of just having a nice edge to cut around when we have her hair just perfectly down and everything is wonderful there but it is contrast thing pretty well but I would say the biggest problem here is the motion blur so it's definitely doable definitely something that will cut out eventually I find it very very few images that I do on especially on solid backdrops they usually work I mean they don't usually end up failing miserably but certain times hair just will not contrast enough so let's say that this hair wasn't contrast ing enough with the background that's when in photo shop I would probably pump up the contrast there a little bit to see if my my tool that I'm using will find more of an edge along the hair so let's go ahead and get a new backdrop pulled over here whatever is next behind the layers I don't know what it is and let's talk about something really quick while that's happening okay so let's say that we needed to have some dress moving so I'll have you stand right here doesn't matter backgrounds moving or anything and I'm just gonna have you go like that with your dress thank you okay so if we have motion like this and that's something that we really need to work with then we need to figure out how much motion blur is acceptable when cutting something out of a background on how to deal with that so I'm going to actually adjust my settings here I'm going to go down to like one thirtieth of a second to get a lot of motion blur and I'm just going to adjust my s o so right now I'm shooting at two point eight and that's probably a mistake because probably know things in focus but you know we'll see it's a good challenge a man s o five hundred and one thirtieth of a second so let's just go ahead and see maybe I'll move back a little bit and I'm gonna focus and let's have you just moved that dress whenever you're ready okay all right so that was an acceptable amount of motion blur I would say because this amount of motion blur we have some blurring right on the edge is but it's not bad because you can't see through the dress right it's not so blurred that you're seeing something behind so what if I go really really low here and I'm just going tio take my eyes so all the way down to one hundred and take me I have my f stop upto f four and let's see how this looks now so whenever you're ready okay that was very slow so now we have the situation of being able to see the backdrop behind the blur and when that happens that's when we create this really big issue of cutting somebody out of a background because how are you going to cut this when you concede what's behind it that's a bigger issue than just you know cutting out hairs because at least hairs are opaque that's the good thing about hair but the bad thing about movement like this is that if you have something in the background that's really obvious than you're gonna have a really hard time so the way that I get around this is if I'm shooting something with motion which I have done a couple of times before and I'm shooting for a different background then I try to make sure that the tone ality of the backdrop matches whatever my new background it is so that's difficult if you don't know where you're moving somebody too but that's when I would just take multiple images like this a black backdrop probably a white backdrop and maybe I would just do those two but something like this is going to be a little bit more difficult with tools and photo shop like replaced color that's going to allow you to select the green which will select some of the green right in through the skirt that's moving and then you can neutralize that color a little bit but still with a tool like refine edge or background eraser you're not going to have a very easy time of it getting a good cut along that edge so it's just something to be very very aware of so let's take a shot of you step back just a little bit that's perfect and would you mind moving your hair again for me but I'm going to fix my camera settings so that I don't get that kind of blur take my I s so back up here and I'm going to adjust my uh stop so I'm just gonna take my food there you go I'm going to take my eyes so back to eight hundred going to get my focus and whenever you're ready good all right I was a bit dark there so because of my exposure I'm going to have a harder time cutting her hair out of this background it's so dark that I'm not getting really really good separation here I don't mind the background being bright because it's green so that's already creating that separation that I need so I'm going to go ahead and just adjust one more time I'm just going to push my eyes so just for a quick change here so I'm at twelve hundred let's do that one more time whenever you're ready good okay so that was a little bit better in that now I can actually see what's happening in her hair there's a little bit more detail just a little bit brighter and that's creating really good separation so now let's try for the black background and I'm going to compare all three of these in just a second to see which one works best and why certain ones won't work a swell now I can already see that hurt here is on the darker side her hair isn't bright it's sort of a doled color sign adult color it's beautiful color but you know what I mean so because of that this black backdrop might be bad it might be good I just have to test it to see so I'm gonna take a shot of you just like that that's good john you don't really have to move it much more and okay I got you in focus and whenever you want to flip that hair you're welcome tio okay so now we have darkness in the background and this is a lot like what I was talking about in terms of having the background suck the white so like that shot in the cave which was underwater we have background that's black or very dark and because of that her hair falls off into a little bit more shadow you don't see that variation if we had a white coming in from behind that was actually lighting her and helping her hair out with a rim light then we would have fine separation we wouldn't have to worry at all all about that but if you're lighting this flat then necessarily the whiting is going to hit brightest here and then fall off into darkness as it moves behind her so when that happens you have the darkness of the hair blending into the darkness of the background obviously something that we don't want so we could probably remedy that by let's just move you up to like right here great okay that's perfect so now we have light hitting her from the side this is good and bad it's bad because this side of her head will be too dark but this side will be bright enough that you can see the background and the separation happening so let's just take a quick test shot than here whenever you're ready got a lot of motion on that one okay so now with this shot we do have more light coming in from the side and that's good and you can see that the hair's kind of coming forward here which actually helped us out a lot so if the hair was actually behind her head like it was on that side that we would not see these highlights here and that would make it blend the issue for me is right up here where we still have a little bit of separation happening in the top of the head but it's getting a little bit dark up there and fading because this hair is creating shadow on the top of her head so all of these things are so important and with me shooting and natural overcast light it's not very likely that I'm going to find a space to shoot in where I have a window here and a window over here that would be ideal because then I would have light just wrapping all around my subject and I can put a dark background in and then I wouldn't have to worry so much the other alternative is to put her closer to the window with the background right behind facing the window so when we're facing in this direction then the whites going to hit her a lot more she's not going to create shadow on herself which is what's happening with the background being face the way that it is oh man you are so good john he's going to bring in a black background forth so I'm just going to a quick demo cause I know that you guys can't see is well but let's see what this does a little bit closer to me great okay and join you khun yet that way a little bit and let me get my focus okay yep good okay great so now we have a lot of light happening and essentially this black backdrop is turning gray almost it's not even a saturated black anymore it looks great and that's because of the light but in this situation that's ideal because now we have hair moving that is bright it's lit up it looks great against that background and we can easily see separation so would you wonderful tech guys mind pulling up three of those images any of one from the white the black and the green let's use this one actually from the black and then we'll see the other two and sort of determine which one is better because I think that background is in kr credibly important when it comes to all of this stuff when it comes to cutting something out of a background making sure that that makes sense so here we have the green the white and the black or what we turned into grey so I tend to think that I don't know I think that will try all of them later there's pretty good separation happening in most of these shots and that's why I I specifically requested a redheaded model so that I wouldn't mess up later when we're editing but I would say that the green is working really well especially in this area here where we have like kind of the most little tiny jets of hair sticking out there even though there was a shadow I think that one was the most successful in terms of there being a shadow on the side of her but that worked out well um this one I still think might have too much motion blur some a little bit worried about that and then this one I think is going to work out best especially because it's so neutral so no matter where we blend her into it's likely that we can match a background to this tonality rather than being white or some sort of darker shade like the green is so let's try one more thing here let's do I'm going to shoot a random backdrop right now so probably ofyou guys because I like you a lot so let's see I'm going to shoot a background and I'm going to try to match her than to be able to move her onto that background only to this totally randomly I'm not thinking about it I'm just going to sit like this and I'm gonna do it okay so we're getting all the camera people in it okay I don't know where my focal point was because I can't see anything okay so let's take a look at that image and when we take a look so what we have is a normal set here sorry for showing all the behind the scenes stuff but eh so what we have is a focal point that we need to find in this picture it's probably right about here on the floor there so that's a good thing because now I know that you know my subject needs to be of a certain height in this picture or she'll be sitting or whatever so I know where my focal point is therefore I know how big to make my subject when I shoot my subject that's a really big thing it's like we did yesterday with that group shot well he had you in there it was like you were a giant that wasn't so good I mean unless you have like a power complex or something but so we want to make sure that the subject will fit in that space I don't want to make her too small that would be the worst thing that we can dio so if I you can just down there if I move back here and you know try to get the same angle and stuff like that and I get my focus and I take a shot that might be okay but she might not fit in that final picture because we can already see that she is going to be too small for that final image this is the worst thing because then we have to make her bigger by stretching the pixels so for stretching the pixels of just one element in the final composite then that means that one element when you go to print it is going to stand out because the quality will be less just on a certain part of the picture I would rather have to stretch the whole thing and have certain printing limitations than have just one portion of a really big image be of less quality so can we compare the background that I just shot with our subject and see what that looks like so what we know about these images is that there is a human here and she sitting and she's almost as tall as our subject's standing in this final image here that we shot of her that means that if we put her right over here she's going to have to come forward in the image to fit in this frame and if she has to do that I'm sorry she has to be made bigger to fit in this frame so if she has to do that then she's losing quality the other option though is to shoot her much closer so get down here and well I can't figure out the frame there we go okay so if I take a shot then much closer then that means that I have to shrink her to fit into that focal point I would much rather shrink somebody to fit into a focal point than have to make somebody bigger so I'm thinking about that and then I'm thinking about angle and height and how that affects distance from my subject so if I am going to photograph my subject to fit into a certain spot I know that I need to get lochs I shot this image lo I know that I need to get sort of now a certain angle of tilt to be ableto fit her into that spot but what I also know is that my distance from her is going to affect the angle of my camera so if I'm getting really close to her and I'm going to shoot this here and I need to tell my camera up just like if I were to get I'm getting down here so if I were to get really low then I need to tell you can see my lenses tilted up even further to be able to take that shot so if I'm shooting from that low of an angle and I'm that close to her then obviously I need to tilt up but if I start moving back and I'm getting an angle that I don't need to tell my camera's much because I can fit her in the frame all the same without tilting so that makes a really big difference when you're trying to maneuver your camera and figure out the distance that you're shooting from and things like that and this could make a difference let's say that you're shot that you're lets you have this most a beautiful field and hills in the background and he would love it so much but your focal point is way in the distance of that picture and that's where your subject needs to go away in the distance then when you do that you need to shoot your subject from quite a distance as well to make them fit so then your angle of your camera isn't inconsistent when you're placing them in there not that most people would want to place the subject as a tiny little person in the back of a picture but that's just one example of how this might be a really really big thing to try to make sure that the consistency is happening okay so now I am going tio come over here and I'm actually going to ask you to step aside for just a second but only because I happily coincidentally wore a dress today that is really good for what we're about to do so I'm going to stick this actually who wants to shoot for me yeah anybody come up okay there you go point and click and focused there okay okay okay so let's see why don't you take a random picture of russ just from right where you are hey perfect okay so now I am standing over here what needs to happen to put me in that picture um lang do you focus wares is going to be a very interesting picture to spend depending on where you focus did you focus on rough I focused on okay so let's say that we're compositing me onto russ you did this okay so we're compositing me onto russ how do I need to sit okay he's sitting ok so I would probably need to sit like this in relation tio no you know it's a workout good okay so we're sitting and maybe the dress is going to be moving now are we the same distance roughly no okay okay good now so now we're the same distance and I'm squatting and I'm going to be sitting on russ and he's like this okay that's good and maybe I'll move my dress for you okay so whenever you're ready just let me know good okay now that should be interesting beautiful okay another is one thing that's a little bit inconsistent here and that's the white so because the light was pretty direct right on russ over here and the light's kind of hitting really evenly then there shouldn't be so much shadow on my face now I had my face turned away from the light which didn't run and really think about that but it wass so we need to make some adjustments here to make this work so let's say that you don't have the option of moving a backdrop let's say that you need to match the light you cannot move the backdrop there's nothing you can d'oh you just have what you have so then we need to figure out what is most important here is that important for me tio pretend that he's not here in the background somewhere else okay so we can't I have sat on his lap but pretend that I need to get the white right therefore I need to be facing the window so that's something that has to happen right now but what's important in terms of cutting what is it that needs to have the same background now my skirt's a little bit sheer so that's something that we need to consider is there going to be motion blur can you see something through my dress is that going to be a problem and what needs to be seen now can we foot back to that picture of russ because when we dio will be able to determine what the background of my skirt needs to be now it looks like you've created a problem because on one side we have a white wall and on the other side we have a black wall so I just regret this all together we can still make it work so knowing that this is our background let's see let's use this foam core that we have which oh it's over there so we use the foam core okay we're going to listen several part this is the compositing and cutting element here so we know that on my left side we need to have the white so let's go ahead and do the white and I'll hold this position and you can try to get as far back as you can and we'll keep moving teo to making the opposite isn't it isn't it on your right oh yeah well you know what I can't think that's ok ok okay so we're going to go ahead and you can hold it like just there yep ok some sitting and I'm really excited and are you ready almost ready okay well that was a very awkward picture I can hardly tell that okay so now we need black on the other side so it's going to flip it and move it over to the other side yeah this is this is going really well so okay so now I'm sitting and we're going to go ahead and flew this dress whenever you're ready freddie okay tried to look cuter on that one but we'll see how that went okay yes good okay so I'm sitting with the dresses moving but now we have the whole upper body to worry about now there are two ways that we could worry about this because again we have that split down the middle of the black and the white and that's something that we don't want to deal with with cutting hair out but I'm going to choose a direction I'm going to say that my hair is going to just go like this cause it's kind of pinned on this side so my hair is going to fly like this I know my hair is gray at the moment a stylistic decision that I made and so I am going to choose then the black side to photograph my hair against that way even if not all of my hair touches the dark side of the picture I still can cut it out in a pretty effective way so yet one more time with that black side and then this will be the final shot okay here we go I'm getting a workout doing okay so I'm going to sit so I'm in the same height she's going to stay at the same height she's looking down at me whenever you're ready we're going to catch some hair manual focus is hard I know ready okay good so now we've got the hair so all of this to composite me on russ's lap I don't know why so but that's how it's going to be so this is going to allow us to use the hair you can already see what separation is happening and this is the same exact m o that we just did with having cadence up against the window thank you thank you very much for that so this is the same thing that we just did with having her against the window with that black in the background and there was so much light filling in at the black turns gray but my hair stands out quite well enough that I can cut that out pretty easily leader so I know that we are nearing the end of the segment are there any questions that we want to go over is a fantastic question ah lot of what you've shown now this actually this last one kind of answers this question but t smith and then three other people we're wondering how you avoid blur when you fling hair dresses etcetera because a lot of what you've shown has been kind of creating that blur yeah definitely well it depends on the lighting situation so we're in a space where I'm cranking my I s o up a little bit here I'm a twelve fifty and that's something that I would normally stay away from if I had you know the best brightest light so if I'm in a field if I'm shooting you know like in my favorite sewer than I have a lot of light coming in so I don't need to worry so much about you know making sure that my my s o is down it's it's just naturally glow and so that's how I would fix it though if I needed teo I shooting a lot of low light situations I'm like going into a weird places using just the a little bit of window light and so I will have to leave bump up my eyes so if it means getting the shot in the right location so I'm not really afraid of I s so very much I'll bump it up to about two thousand and then start to panic after that but up to two thousand pretty good with that I'm happy there but aside from that it's also my process to really d noise pictures just as part of my style so that's why I don't worry so much about that so I would just say if you are if you're used to working in a studio situation if you have access to whites and backdrops and things like that then I would definitely say you know getting a light like this like the each of my light that we were using yesterday which provides really nice daylight balanced light very bright you could definitely take your shutter speed up a little bit and avoid that motion blur do you have any questions for anyone in the room here so I have something that I forgot to do that I really want to do let's go ahead and do it okay thank you okay so first think agents you can come back out now this is just a really really quick demo here about lens distortion so we talked about this already the perspective distortion that happens with different lenses I'm using a fifty millimeter fixed lens it's a prime lens and so when I shoot with this fifty millimeter I'm not worried at all about distortion I have a background that doesn't matter because there's nothing in it so I'm gonna take a quick shot here take a quick shop from down low looking up at my subject and you khun just what I don't do something fun like move your dress a little yeah that's good perfect okay that is so cute so we have a cute little picture here that we could use for whatever yeah what swap ones is and so now that was with the fifty so what you notice about this image with this lens is the fact that we don't have any distortion around the edges yesterday we talked about how distortion can happen in the background with compressing an image as well as in the in the edges of your frame so she has her hand up against the edge the dress she has feet sort of legs up against the edge of the frame and all of that's going to make a really big difference with this lens that I've just put on which I'm going to shoot it sixteen millimeters so if you're used to shooting with a wider angle lens then that's where we might get some issues with shooting a subject like this especially this angle oh oh my gosh I've never shot with sixteen millimeter lens holy more way believe it okay so I'm going to go ahead and you could do the same thing with that dress whenever you're ready okay well this has been crazy so let's pull those pictures up next to one another just so we can see the difference and the difference is obviously gigantic in terms of how close I had to get the angle that gets distorted how long her legs looked in comparison to the other because it's being stretched the problem was shooting like this if you're shooting inconsistently with your lens is that if I am trying to edit her feet onto this picture in there I'm not going to work I mean you're going to do a lot of distortion control in photo shop to make that happen and that's why I recommend getting lenses that are consistent or sticking to the same lens if you pen on dh also paying a lot of attention to angle so because I was with that fifty millimeter lens I had to get back so far to get her in the picture that I didn't have to tilt up a cz much to get her in the frame so because I was so close I would have to actually raise my height of my camera to not have to tilt up so I would have to be more like this which go ahead and foot that dress good so I would have to be like that which is correcting a very little bit of the distortion but not nearly nearly enough so we still have stretched toes down at the bottom there's still sort of like coming toward the camera like they're going to eat somebody and her head's sort of being pulled up the forehead and things like that so that's what I want to avoid with compositing and when you're cutting somebody out of a background when you're working with switching backgrounds if you've shot your background let's say with a fifty millimeter lens then you shoot your subject with you know a lens and the teens then you're going to have this perspective shift that just won't do fit together in the image so something to keep in mind and I'm sorry that I forgot to say that earlier

Class Description


Compositing doesn’t have to be daunting – simple techniques can remedy slight imperfections in a photo or allow you to place your subject in a fantasy world. In Fine Art Compositing, fine art photographer Brooke Shaden will teach you an approach to compositing that will help you enhance – or transform – your images with minimal effort.

Compositing allows you to combine visual elements from multiple sources into one single image. In Fine Art Compositing, Brooke will share easy compositing skills photographers can use every day, like swapping out a blinking eye in a group shot or replacing a hand in a fashion shoot. She’ll also show you more artful applications for compositing – teaching you how to create the illusion of levitation and how to transform scrap fabric into a flowing dress. Brooke will also discuss fine art compositing and how you can create and market composite images that are, despite the use of stock elements, uniquely your own.

In this class, you will learn effective and inspired compositing techniques that will help you create more polished and believable images from an artist who has mastered the craft.

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