Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography


Lesson Info

Base Plate Sketching

It's the same thing as yesterday, I like to draw on these things, so I can see in my brain what's goin' on. So, to make this more visual I'm thinking about putting a V-Flat... Wrong perspective, eh. There you go, this is like my awesome drawing skills. Be jealous. (laughing) Alright, V-Flat, with a little light. That's gonna go there, that's kinda what I'm thinking in my head and then probably an octobox, maybe with a little bit more of a downward angle. Because you see this light, if we zoom in nice and close. You have this little bit, it's a little bit less bright here than it is right here. So that tells me that I'll probably have my Octobox at a slight downward angle, here. That would make sense to me. I may or may not throw a reflector on the ground here, I haven't decided. I'll figure that out when I'm photographing it. But, I'm also gonna wanna fill in some of the shadows, here. And, I could if I wanted to, do that. Which is another V-Flat, or a big tall reflector. I could just ...

stick something up here, which I've done. Right, I could totally do that if I wanted to, but I think in this case I would probably use another octobox here. 'Cause I wanna create slightly nice shaped lighting. The way that I'd done yesterday with the other model, which I can pull that up again, here. So, in this case this shadow here is from the strobe. It's not from the sun, because the sun was coming from this way, down. Which is why we have this nice soft shadow, here. This is our environmental shadow, this is the shadow from the strobe. So, in this case, I love though that we have nice defined features on her face. It looks very pretty. We have a nice shadow under her chin, which is, of course, the thing that I really like. And so I'll probably do something similar with that here. So, I'll probably have this octobox-- I angled it the wrong way. Probably something like this. Will be angled down, here. So, that's kind of what I'm thinking. And this is how my pre-visualization goes in my head. I'm mentally doing this while I'm photographing. Going, "Oh, what would I do with this?" Ya know? And I have tons and tons of images where I have ideas that have just been floating around in my head for a year or two and then I just forget about them and I go back into the file and I'm like "Oh yeah," there was that idea that I planted in there like a little seed. And I may or may not jump on it, but this really isn't the pose that I'm thinking at all. So, if I was to pick a blank shot, and I haven't picked which one I'm gonna use yet. I'm just totally guest-imating here. 'Cause I haven't done the culling yet. Open image. So if I zoom in, I find my little rock. Hello rock, that is my focus point. So, my subject is gonna go here. I know I have this fluffy little dress thing. I'm gonna wanna do stuff with it, 'cause I like it when dresses go places and go all over the place and do crazy stuff. I have my person and it looks like that. Which is like the worst drawing ever, and that's okay. But another case, what I'm saying is I would love to have the fabric kind of do this. Float out like this. 'Cause it's gonna go nicely with what's going on here. It's gonna be like a nice little swoop. I would love to have her body here. Her face here, and her hair kinda doin' stuff like this. Which I'm gonna hate in masking. (laughing) And it's gonna suck, but that's okay. But that's kinda what's rolling through my head. The other option of course is that if I make her smaller. So this is making her quite large in the scene. Which is admittedly bigger than what's required. She should be, you know, the top of her head should be here. So, she would be quite small in the frame. So, then my question is: Well, do I want her to be that small in the frame, what if I wanted her to be bigger? Well what if I take one of the portrait shots? And in this case, she'll take up more space. Alright, I have more sky up here. But, let's see, let's find the rock. Which the rock makes it easy. Nice dark spot. And maybe in this case here I wouldn't want her to be standing sideways with the fabric going this way because it's gonna go against the composition of the frame. So I have my plan of focus is this area, here. Sideways. Roughly that. And I shot this at F11 or a 13, so it's pretty forgiving in reality. This is my area where I can put my model. I can put my model here, I could put my model here, I could put my model here. I can put here, here, and that's gonna all make sense. So, what I could do, is I could have her take up a fair portion of the frame, right here, with fabric. It's too tall again. Fabric like this. Body here and hair. But even still, I'm pre-visualizing this and I'm seeing kind of what's goin' on and I'm seeing like okay, some of the fabric here could do this, and do this. And I could maybe even crop this in a little bit. You know, maybe all this extra space up here is too much and none of this stuff is adding to the story. So maybe I'll crop it in when we're done. Right, so, I'm sitting here and I'm looking at this and I'm understanding that this is just my base plate. This background piece is only my base plate. It's level zero, this is my rough sketch. And then when we bring her into the studio, and we're photographing her, it's also just our rough sketch. So, it's basically we're getting together our ingredients. Right so, we're gonna bake a cake, we're gonna bake an image cake. (laughing) And in this case, one of our ingredients is this. We want focus plane to be roughly here. We want subject size to be roughly that tall. And to be honest that horizon line going all the way through here kind of sucks. So maybe i'll move her over here and then we can balance things out with what's goin' on over here. If I was feeling more industrious and I had more time maybe I would add a little castle here, some crap. But, it's not gonna happen today 'cause I don't have the time but, you know, if I was to do this on my own where I was just siting at home and I could spend a few hours of like, you know, mistakes, screwing around and seeing what happens maybe that's what I would do. I would add a third thing, so then it would be like one, two, three. Alright so maybe I could do the quintessential thing and add some like birds, 'cause everyone adds birds into their pictures, which is fine. Nothing wrong with adding birds, but maybe that would be the thing that I could add over there relatively easily, right. I could draw in something, or in my case, maybe we could make bats. There's my bats. Anyways. (laughing) But, if I'm looking at this, if I wanted to put my subject here along the same plane of focus, I'm looking at this and I'm going, okay, there needs to be something going on here. And so maybe during the break I'll bash my head in a little bit and see if I could figure something out that we could easily put in there. So, probably birds. (laughing) That's kind of what's going through my head right now. So, this is two of our ingredients. Right, one of them of course we have to photograph the model. The other ingredient is our background piece and then I've already snapped the sky's up. So it's just gonna be a matter of picking which one. And that I'll know once we get into the editing this afternoon.

Class Description

With the right Photoshop know-how and studio shoot experience, you can merge fact and fiction into a reality that lives up to your imagination. Renee Robyn has made a career of turning everyday photos from her travels into eye-catching images. Robyn will teach you how to add people and other elements to your existing landscape photos using ethereal custom effects.

Join us for “Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography” and you’ll learn:

  • How to choose or set up a shoot for your background image
  • How to direct posing during a shoot, and work with directional light in studio to make your subject fit into the background image
  • How to composite your subject into your image using Photoshop

Photo compositing allows you to breathe interesting ideas into your photos. Open your hard drive, walk into your memory, and turn past experiences into fantastic new realities.


1Class Introduction
2Why You Should Sketch Your Composite
3What to Look for in Your Background
4Posing Your Model
5Communicate with Your Team
6Elements of Compositing
7Learning from Failure & Criticism
8On-Location Safety Tips
9How to Nail the Right Perspective for Your Composite Photo
10Gauging Light & Exposure On-Location
11On-Location Posing
12Cliff Shoot Location Final Thoughts
13Tips for Culling Images
14Culling Images Q&A
15Preparing Your Image for Composite
16Composite Image Cleanup
17Adding Background Image to Composite
18The Difference Between Flow & Opacity
19Composite Sky Elements
20Using Curves to Color Match
21Adding Atmospheric Depth to Image
22Using Color Efex Pro to Manipulate Color
23Using the Liquify Tool
24Color Theory & Monitor Calibration
25Adding Smoke Layer to Image
26Selective Sharpening
27Crop Your Image
28Goal Setting for Digital Artists
29Review of Location Composite
30Understand Angle & Height for Your Base Plate Image
31Base Plate Focus Point
32Base Plate Lighting Tips
33How to Use a Stand-In for Base Plate Image
34Capture On-Location Base Plate Image
35Student Positioning Demo
36Base Plate Sketching
37On-Location Sky Capture
38What to Look for in a Base Plate Model
39Building Composite Model Lighting
40Composite Model Test Shots for Angle Matching
41Composite Model Shoot: The Art of Fabric Throwing
42Composite Model Shoot: Working with Hair
43Composite Model Shoot: Posing Techniques
44Composite Test with Final Shot
45Lighting Setup Overview
46Culling Model Shoot Images
47Adjusting Skintone Colors
48Merging Background with Model
49How to Mask Hair
50Creating a Layer Mask with the Brush Tool
51Creating Shadow Layers
52Removing Visual Distractions with Stamp Tool
53Replacing Sky with Layer Mask
54Drawing Hair Strands and Atmospheric Depth
55Creating Contrast in Your Composite
56Adding Atmospheric Elements
57Using Particle Shop
58Selective Color Adjustments
59Cropping, Sharpening, & Final Touches
60Closing Thoughts