Shoot: The Book Scene Background Shots


From Shoot Through Photo Editing: Building a Composite in Photoshop


Lesson Info

Shoot: The Book Scene Background Shots

Basically how I would normally start the shoot, if I was alone or whatever, so I'm gonna choose an angle that I like and then kinda set up my scene to do this. So when I'm in that stage usually I have my camera off a tripod. A tripod is a really great tool, especially when you need the camera, like in this case we don't want the camera to move once it's finally set so it will be on a tripod, but often times I find a tripod will totally limit your creativity. Like you're just not gonna try out 10 different angles that you might like if it's on a tripod 'cause it's a pain to move a tripod. To go from here to here on a tripod takes like a minute and a half 'cause you gotta do all the legs and stuff. So what I usually do is get my camera totally freehand. I make my composition and then once I have it where I want it then I use the tripod and adjust to the camera rather than just going from the camera, or the tripod first, rather. Okay, well this is also really nice. We're just gonna set th...

is up right over here. Now yesterday in the double exposure class we used Capture One to show the double exposure in the overlay feature where we could actually see photographing a subject and then the ferns and they both overlayed on the same frame. So today we're gonna be using Capture One for another reason and I really like this. Capture one actually supports Live View straight from your camera which is really really cool. So we're gonna be using Live View here so you guys can see through the lens of the camera as we actually start our capture here. Alright, there we go. Let's switch to camera mode there. And there we go. Live View that actually tethers to the computer is super nice. If you guys are working with clients Capture One actually has a really cool program called Capture Pilot which you can broadcast this to, like, an iPad. You can use a static IP address and broadcast this to a number of iPads. So what I'm doing here is basically creating a composition for my end photo. Like deciding what I want my end photo to look like. And a lot of the time I would actually be looking through my viewfinder here, but in this case it kinda makes sense to have this be like this so you guys can see what the camera sees as well. Alright, so we have a number of different things that I'm kinda working with. Now the lower I go with my camera angle, that basically means I have to match, let me just set that down for a second there, so whatever I do here in this miniature I have to match in real life so if I've got a camera angle coming up from a really high angle, I've gotta match that with my subject in the studio because I can't be shooting down on the book and then shoot straight onto my subject. That's gonna look really weird. So if I decide to shoot at a camera angle that's really high then I need to get really high. We actually have a ladder in here we're gonna be using in the next shoot so I can get like 10 feet in the air and photograph down on my subject so that's something that we really do have to think about whenever we're working with this. It's like the angle that I choose here will directly dictate the angle that I have to match when I'm photographing my subject. Alright, so we have a few different options here. Now I'm gonna bring this up here. We're also gonna work on bringing our LED in there just a little bit. I kinda like how it creates those nice shadows there on the stairs. Alright, we can pop that into focus. Alright, and kinda work on creating our composition. Alright, that's kind of a cool composition to start with so I might go ahead and start with there and we're gonna shoot several different options. There we go. So I'm gonna set my camera down and just kinda like note to myself, alright I want my camera to be right about there. And being that this is a composite I can shoot a ton of different options. I'm not at all limited. This is, it's kinda the opposite of a capturing the moment shot. This is completely planned. Everything is going to be put together in Photoshop at the end. Go a little bit lower there. So we have a lot of different options. If you wanna photograph one way, like we're gonna be doing from the left here in just a little bit, you can do that, then you can photograph your subject from the left. You can photograph from the right and photograph your subject from the right and you can do all that in the same photo shoot. So when you get into post production you have like three or four different camera angles that you can choose from. So not only does it give you more options during your actual shoot, but it will give you a lot more options in post. So we actually don't have to decide that right now. A lot of the time with something that I think will look really good during a photo shoot, ha ha, look at you guys. (laughs) Something that I think will look really good during a photo shoot winds up being, here we go, winds up maybe not looking that great in the actual final. We're gonna bring this up just a little bit here. Alright. Cool, so I still wanna do my best to create a nice composition with the, with this photo. Alright, let me bring my focus point down to about here and... Turn on auto focus. Okay, cool, so that's a pretty nice start. I mean provided we have our subject kinda walking out of the books here, we've got a nice shadow on the book, you can see that it is stairs. I can enhance this a little bit in Photoshop, like make these a little bit darker to really give a little bit of level. He's kinda coming out here. You get the idea of the light. Composition's nice. He's gonna be on the right third so he's not directly center frame and we've got a cool magnifying glass. Now the magnifying glass is actually a really cool prop that I kinda wanna play with here to see if I can get some sort of magnification effect on the book. Something like that. Alright, looks like our Live View may have just paused so let's hit play on there again. Cool, so having the magnifying glass in the frame is a cool way to kinda add a little bit of another element. I'm gonna bring these books in here and see like perhaps we can do that or play around with this side. So, again, this is the sort of stuff normally you would just be doing this kinda on your own and you wouldn't have any type of time restraints or whatever working against you there. You just kinda spend as much time as you want working on that. Alright, I'm gonna let you guys decide. Do you like this on that side or on the other side where we can get some sorta different type of effect? And I can balance this and put it in the right place there. Alright, we could even tape it down if we needed to. Alright, what do we think in the in studio audience? Which side do you like it on? Camera left. Camera left? This side over here? Alright, cool. This is so interactive, wow. (laughs) Alright, that's pretty cool like that, huh? Maybe I'd like to see it a little bit more in the frame. Alright, but I actually don't want it to wind up taking away too much. That's kinda nice up there. Let me see how it looks down here as well. Alright, I would like a little bit of the handle in there, too. What do you think about that? Feels good. Feels good? Alright, we'll do that as an option, alright, and then we'll try one like here on the bottom of the thing as another option. Alright, what do you think between the two? First. The first one? Alright, cool, so now we'll try to match what's going on with the first one. Right about there? Yeah. Cool, alright, do we have some gaffer tape? Some black gaffer tape? I'm just gonna keep this from sliding here. Yeah, thanks, John. Cool, so this is totally fun. Like all of this is not necessarily, we're not doing any compositing yet. This is just setting up a miniature scene and, oh yeah, that's cool how you can see it kinda like warp the text of the page. Yeah, that's really cool. Alright, there we go. So here we have a pretty decent setup so far. So as far as the look of the photo goes, just one thing. I've got a blank spot on the camera right there so I'm gonna put that in to kinda fill that in with space and yeah, I think we're looking pretty good there. I like our composition. I like, the lighting looks nice on the stairs and we're ready to start blocking off some of our other lighting. So this is, again, like we're just kinda setting up a scene that looks pretty cool here and now we're gonna start photographing and in order to do that we need to block some of the light that's kinda coming in here so, again, because we want the majority of our exposure to be coming from this LED so we're gonna bring in a side panel here and then did we have another side, too? Or this is our side there? Okay, cool. Of course it's on the side where the viewers are. But you guys can still see. Push it in? You guys can still see. And you see how much of a difference that made blocking that light? It looks a lot more like, okay, cool, this is definitely a shot that's actually lit by the LED. Okay, now the other thing that we're gonna focus on whenever you have a shot like this, especially because we're composite, is your light and then the counterpart to light is a shadow and shadows are like the biggest part of making a composite look real. If you've got really weird shadows or nonexistent shadows, people look like they're floating. It's really really weird. And shadows are very difficult to just make freehand in Photoshop because it has a lot to do, like the shadow color often is, it's not just like gray. Usually the shadow has color. A lot of the time the shadow color is actually like if you have a warm light source, like an orange light source, often times the shadow will have a slightly bluish cast to it so it's like the absence of light. It actually is usually the opposite color. If you have like a blue shadow sometimes, or blue highlight or blue light rather, you actually have a warm shadow as well. It's also pretty difficult to calculate where a shadow will actually fall. So I made this little guy out of clay here. It didn't take too long. Basically just took a rectangle of clay, an X-Acto knife, and made a little character here. What this does is it gives us a little bit of scale in our shot and it gives us an actual shadow that I'm gonna be able to use, hopefully I can use the shadow from this guy in the final photo and then I'll just get rid of him in the final photo and use our photo of our subject in its place. So that's the idea and it also gives us an idea of pose in this case so I can actuaLly have him climbing the stairs and you can see he's got his arm up there so he's gonna be like holding the lantern up and then I can place the lantern in the right spot so when we have all of this when it comes time to photograph Adrian, our real human being, in the same spot we know exactly what we need him to look like. We know his arm has to be about this high or whatever. We know where we're gonna have him actually walking in the scene as well. So using miniatures and stuff like this is just, you wanna take as much of the guesswork out of compositing as possible. Especially when you're on a live broadcast. You don't wanna mess up, right? (laughs) So you really, just kinda thinking about these things ahead of time will totally help you guys make a composite a little bit more effectively. Alright, we'll hit play there and I'm gonna start kinda placing our subject here in the scene. Kinda like walking up out of our book. This was kinda the idea there, that he's gonna be walking out of the book and holding a lantern up there. And, again, this is just modeling clay. It's kinda nice 'cause it'll actually stick to the book. There we go, that's pretty cool. And then we've got our LED light here that we can also kinda play with where this is... Here we go, where this is gonna be visible on our subject so alright. Just some micro adjustments here. And this is just, again, it's an LED and it's very cool. It's an LED and it's on the end of a, just a little boom there. So we can see kinda the light that we've got from our image there and the shadow on our subject as well. So when I'm photographing these things I definitely want to make sure that I photograph them like this when we have our light in the scene and our subject in the scene because they actually do affect the scene quite a bit. But I also wanna make sure I photograph the scene without the subject and without the light. That way when it comes time to remove the subject I'm not trying to use the clone stamp tool to do it. Instead I'm just gonna use an exposure that doesn't have the subject in it. That's a lot easier to do and because everything is fixed, everything is in the same position here, I don't have to worry about, like when it comes time to remove the subject all it is is a simple layer mask because I have two of the exact same photo, one with the subject and one without. Okay, so I think we're ready to start shooting. I think it looks really good. So we're gonna pop off of Live View real quick 'cause I don't know that I can capture on Live View. I may be able to. Oh, yeah I think I can. Alright, so for this I'm gonna shoot also in manual mode and we are gonna bracket this exposure here. So we're gonna be shooting in manual mode and basically my goal here is to find settings that are going to, oh, see that's what happens. Sometimes you knock your tripod a little bit. Did it move a lot? The tripod? Just a tiny bit? Alright, so what's also nice about Capture One, I can actually capture here in... There we go, in the software and I can also change my exposure settings as well. So 1/30 of a second we're gonna try going to, well this looks like it's going just to 1/30. I'm gonna take this off of Live View real quick. Alright, so we can see that's our first exposure. That's the capture that I just made straight from Capture One. Now we can see we're at f9 which actually kinda makes sense in this case because we are shooting at a relatively shallow depth of field and our shutter speed, I wanna actually make this a little bit lower. Doesn't look like we can do this here with our Capture One so I'm gonna change my shutter speed. We're just gonna get slower and slower. Alright, I'm gonna turn Live View off there and then make sure I'm focused in on the right area. Great, so what we're gonna do now is do a few different captures so I can combine this together later using HDR techniques. So I'm doing about a stop difference in between each one of these shots. And this is gonna make sure that I have detail on every part of my image. Again, I mean I'm shooting a still image, right? There's no reason why you shouldn't do an HDR in this case because I can get information from all the way to the deepest shadows to the highest highlights and then combine that all together in post so it makes a lot of sense to do an HDR in this case. So that looks good. I've got detail there in my shadows. I'm gonna make our shutter speed now a little bit faster. Alright, we'll shoot at 1/30 of a second here. Alright and shoot at 1/60 of a second. And there we go. Now I feel pretty good about having all the detail from our image. So when I wanna combine these together in post production I can have a nice dimly lit subject but I can still have information on the rest of my photo. I don't have to have anything go to black so using HDR is a really nice way to kinda combine those. Alright, cool. Do we have any questions up until now? We're gonna remove the subject and do another couple HDR captures, but now is a good time for some questions. Alright, and grab a mic if you have any in the studio audience. So one of the questions, first of all people are loving seeing you create this Cool. In real time so that is awesome. So if you have a reflection from around the room, for example, on the edge of the magnifying glass, would you block that now or in post? Oh, that's a good question. Well, I guess it depends on how distracting it is. If it's someone picking their nose or something like that I would definitely block that out, but if it just looks like, in this case I do want it to look like it's in a room. I think it would totally make sense to have a reflection of the room, but if it is reflecting something that bothers you then do it during the shoot. Post production is really, you can do a lot in post production, but often times it takes a lot longer to do in post and it's a lot less accurate as well. Even if you're pretty good at Photoshop so if you can correct something during a shoot I would always recommend doing it during the shoot. And you guys can see, I mean I do quite a bit of Photoshop and you can see how much I'm doing here in camera and that really is the best way to get something looking realistic. It's like CG in a movie. You can always tell. When it's real, it looks real. When it's like Gollum or something like that from Lord of the Rings or like the new Star Wars, it always looks fake so, yeah, do everything real if you can. Alright cool, so I'm gonna remove our guy now and then we're basically gonna do the same thing here. Shooting, we're gonna bracket our shots here as well. Alright, we're gonna shoot at 1/30 of a second, 15th, eighth. Here we go. Cool, so now we have a lot of different options, basically. I'm not stuck with just the guy in the photo. Now we also have our light here in the frame as well so we're gonna do the same thing with our light kinda moved up a little bit. Now this is gonna work, it's going to change the lighting on my scene quite a bit so keep that in mind. I'll be able to use this information to clone out just this area around the books, but we don't wanna use these captures for anything else because our light in the scene was dictated by the position of this LED. So just something to kinda keep in mind. (camera clicking) Cool. Alright, there we are. So that's pretty much everything we need to capture for this part of the frame. Yeah, so we can tear this down. Yeah, alright and obviously if you guys were doing this as your own project you would wanna spend a little bit more than 20 minutes on it, so (laughs) this is our time crunch, but thanks. We have a awesome crew who can do a lot of this stuff for us, so. So, Aaron, while they're moving this I would love for you to tell us a little bit more about creating this 'cause I know it took you a long time. It took awhile. Yeah so I ordered Talk us through it. A brand new book and continued to destroy it. Basically the concept was to create stairs in a book which you guys have probably seen people cut holes in books before. I'm not the first person to do it, but basically I just used an X-Acto knife to cut our first square in and then cut a slightly smaller square and then cut a slightly smaller square over and over again. When I got towards the bottom I actually, oh, and here's a big hint by the way. When I started I clamped the book so it was, 'cause a book will move, right? Especially as you're trying to carve holes in it so I clamped the book like this so as I carved the book wouldn't move at all. And when I got towards the bottom, 'cause it's pretty deep, I actually just opened it up quite a bit and started cutting smaller holes in the book so, yeah, we have an actual stairwell in the book and doing this stuff is fun. It's a lot more fun than working on a computer. Did you count the number of stairs to make sure that-- No. You didn't? (laughs) I didn't even see that prop until last night. We have some stairs that our subject is gonna be walking on which I didn't even see until last night so we're just gonna hope it looks good. Yeah, awesome. That's what Photoshop is for, making up the differences. That is what Photoshop is for. I was thinking that we often say, "Don't do this at home," but yes, do this at home. Do this at home. Try it. Yeah, ruin books. (laughing) Exactly, so, Aaron, you also, you talked about how shadows and paying attention to the shadows is one of the biggest things that you should be considering as you're doing the shooting part before editing. So are there other things that, when doing composites like this, that you should be specifically very careful about so that when you get it into post you're okay, you're in the clear? Yeah, the biggest things you wanna work on are your lighting which also dictates shadow and your camera angle and those things are really important to match in your composite. Basically you wanna make something that looks real, right? And a lot of those things are photograph principles. I mean I would not try to take a random picture of my mom and try to put her on a beach somewhere. I mean you could try, but it's not gonna look good because the lighting is gonna be totally different, most likely the angles are gonna be totally different as well. So if you can kinda keep that in mind from the start, it makes your job a lot easier. And when you were setting this up last night, can you talk us a little bit through sort of how long it took you to or what you went through to get to that exact setup? Yeah, I would say it took about two hours to set up last night. I sketched everything out beforehand. Well before I came here and I knew that I wanted the background to be a wall of old books. I knew we wanted to have a large book that was open. We got the magnifying glass we ordered for this photo shoot, having some books on the side so I had an idea in my head. We wanted it on a wooden table to give it like an older look. So I had an idea in my head of what I wanted the final shot to look like and so arranging everything to fit into that took about two hours to do. And then even the magnifying glass we did that this morning 'cause I didn't, I didn't decide where that was gonna go until you guys helped out.

Class Description

Compositing in Photoshop opens a world of imagination, and gives you the tools to channel your inspiration directly through your fingertips. In this class, Aaron Nace will walk you through a shoot to show you how to play with size and scale to create a fantastical image. Aaron will teach you about directing light so that the combination of images share matching light sources; posing models correctly to achieve your vision; and diving into photoshop to carefully composite the photos and walk away with something that could only have been imagined.  

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.1.2



Tremendous course. Loved getting an advanced course from a great teacher. I learned a ton of useful things in this course and am certain that I will be viewing this course over and over. Worth twice the cost! Thanks Creative Live!!!


Love love love this class! So much fun and informative.