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Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 39 of 60

Building Composite Model Lighting


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 39 of 60

Building Composite Model Lighting


Lesson Info

Building Composite Model Lighting

We have a bunch of lights set up. I haven't even turned them on yet (chuckles) I don't have any of the powers set up or anything. Actually, you know one thing we didn't grab was a trigger. We need a trigger for the camera. Anyways, so we are right now I've got Capture One loaded up and I'm gonna create a new session, so I'm gonna go File, New session. I'm gonna call this CL Studio and I'm just gonna hit OK and if all goes to plan, we should load up a new document. There we go. I like to shoot tethered a lot so that I could see what's going on, especially when I'm building a composite the more I can line it up, the easier. Once we get this trigger going, because somehow we all slipped the ball on that and it happens sometimes. We're gonna throw this on the back of the camera and I'm gonna take a shot. I'm pretty sure none of these lights are even turned on yet so we're gonna do that too. First thing I wanna do, yeah, thanks. So first thing I wanna do is I wanna make sure that none of th...

e studio lights are contaminated in the scenes, so I am just gonna take a picture Doo-do-do! Plugging this in. What's nice with the 5D Mark II is that the cable that charges my Wacom actually plugs in to the side of my camera, so I can trigger, so I've one less cable to carry. So generally I like shooting around F11. I've got it set at 1/60th of a second ISO 200. Those are just settings that I like to use, that's all. (chuckles) So I'm just gonna take a picture and then just focus somewhere in the room here. (shutter clicks) Take a picture of the black room and hopefully what's gonna show up, as what shows up on the screen is a black image, which that means that my image is exposed. That means that none of the studio lighting is gonna be impacting what this is gonna look like in post production. I've definitely had it sometimes where I've shot at a lower aperture, and then some of the lighting that's in the room is affecting my image and I'm like, "Why is there this gross, orange glow "on their forehead and the tops of their cheeks?" Like where is this coming from? While I turned off all the lights, and I take a picture there's some of the ambient light coming into the shot and sometimes they could totally screw with things. Let's get our model in here and let's start turning on some lights. I'm shooting this with a 16 to 35, but I might switch it over to the 50. Yeah. And so right now, what I have open still is I have my image open in Photoshop with my subject, so my friend that was hiking with me. So I still have this open, and there's something glowing. Flying by her right there. So I'm just gonna look at this and we're just going to take a shot because we're here and we're just gonna see what everything's sitting at. (shutter clicks) This is not intended to be an amazing image at this point. What I'm basically trying to see is I'm trying to see what the light is doing on her face and on her body. Can I pull... Actually, that's not too bad. Can I get you to come forward a little bit? So if we're looking at this. See this little highlight here on her cheek? Right, we can look at that, and we're like, "Hey, that's pretty similar to the highlight "that's on her cheek here." That's not too shabby actually. That worked out quite nicely. So this light here along her shoulder. It's not very strong of course they're massively underexposed right now, so we're gonna change the power of everything, but we have a little bit of light here on her shoulder but it's not too overpowering which is perfect. Right, I like that. We're just gonna have to turn the power up on all the things so that we can get a little bit more light on her. Words are hard today. (chuckles) So of course now we have this light here. I want this one, this arts box here to be my main light. I want that one to be my directional, so as if I was shooting this with lighting on location quote unquote. I'm gonna turn up some power here on some things. Turn some dials. Some people are so specific of exactly how they like things to do. I don't shoot Profoto enough to know exactly what's going on with these, so I'm just gonna turn dials until I get the exposure that I want. Definitely guessing. One, two and three. (shutter clicks) Fwap! Sweet, we're getting a little bit nicer! So I turned both of these up to the same power. What that means is that I'm not gonna have nice light shaping, and I kinda want nice light shaping. I'm probably gonna turn this V-flat here down. Now, can anybody tell me why I'm using V-flats for two of my lights? It's gonna create a large light source. It's gonna create soft shadows. It's gonna amplify. Sorry, it's gonna replicate as close as I can to what's going on in our environment here because we have large soft light everywhere. So we don't have V-flat in that corner. There's not enough room. Of course we're dealing with some limitations here and this space is a little bit more narrow than what I'd generally like to shoot in. I generally like to shoot in spaces where I have lots and lots and lots of room so that I have lots of room to throw light where I need it. We are gonna move this around a little bit. I'm gonna turn down my V-flat. Doo-do-do! Guestimating. That's gonna hit you. If we're looking at this light, this light is actually just a little bit low for what I would like. I'd like it to be a little bit taller cause right now it's gonna, and we can see a little bit here on this image, we have a little bit of shadow under her chin but I like a little bit more, so probably what I'll do is I'll bring the light up a little bit higher and angle it down just to accentuate that because I think it's pretty, and if anybody wants to mathematically define that as to what that really means, go ahead. But I think it's nice. So this little shine of light in the corner here we have just a Profoto hanging out, and it's gonna throw a bunch of light at her and it's giving just enough of a kick that it's gonna highlight her a little bit, but I'm gonna turn it up so I get a tiny bit more power out of it. I'm gonna angle this guy a little bit here, this one here is turned down a lot. Because I don't really want a highlight going onto here on this side of her body because technically if you're dealing with a little bit of directional light, cause even though the sun with all the clouds is a giant soft box, it still has a little bit of direction. I'm just gonna keep this side a little bit lower. And then we'll see how this looks. So if I was shooting this on location, or if the studio was cold, cause sometimes studios can be quite cold, I'd have a sweater on her, but I think you're okay. It's quite warm in here, so one, two, three. (shutter clicks) Still super dark, but I'm starting to get kind of that shaping in the light that I want now. So I'm starting to get a little bit more highlight on this side of her face. Starting to get that shadow underneath her chin. That's very pretty. That's definitely still a little bit too dark. I can make adjustments with this. I can do this in camera even. So I could turn up my ISO a little bit. I could drop my aperture to F10, and see what happens there cause I have my ratio how I want it. My ratio is looking kind of how exactly I want it to look. One, two, three (shutter clicks) Of 10, we're looking better. Let's see. Still a little bit dark. I don't know if that thing's accurately calibrated (laughs) I'm gonna turn it up a little bit more just to make sure. Of course I could edit this in post production. One thing to know, is our monitor is calibrated for our cameras Perfect. So really focus on your monitor is the best, your computer. Alright, sounds good. So I just turned up my main light just a tiny little bit. Let's see what we get here. One, two, three (shutter clicks) Fwap. Nice! Yeah! I like that, that's looking very nice. Alrighty, so that's kind of where I'm sitting at with lighting. I may or may not tweak it a little bit once we get into posing because once the fabric starts going everywhere and stuff like that, it's gonna change a little bit, but I think we're gonna look not too bad. I'm not using gridded lights because I kind of want lights to go everywhere, so if you've seen grids, those little squares that can be on the ends of softboxes, that's for light control. So it's if we don't want lights filling on the background and we want it in very specific areas. Grids are extremely powerful and they're great for light control, but in this case we're recreating and simulating an overcast day. So if I really wanted to, if I was really picky, and I wanted to get that little bit of light on top of her head, we have a white ceiling. You can just take a bare-bulb, stand it up and point it at the ceiling. It'll bounce light down onto the top of their head if that's what you have. That works pretty well. Here we have too much shapes. We'd get shapes all over the floor, so that's not gonna work but we could totally do that if we wanted to. If that's what's in your thing. Right now our highlight is on the opposite side of her cheek right here, so that means in post production, I could flip her, or I could flip my background. Somebody's gonna come along and be like, "That beach line actually isn't that way." You're like, "It's a composite, shut up, stop." (laughs) I'm gonna put birds that weren't there too, so go away.

Class Description

With the right Adobe® 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.

In this class 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.


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


Dino Maez

i have to say, the class was AMAZING! in every way from the tricks and technique's of mastering this art form to the personalized attention given by Renee. through the class you are able to learn information that would normally take the average person years of trial and error. Renee gives you the gift of benefitting from her her experiences and what she has learned THE HARD WAY! Renee is an outstanding instructor full of passion for what she does, and with a strong desire to not only improve the art, but more importantly, pay it forward, by sharing her knowledge with others. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the event in person, truly a once in a lifetime experience for me, the staff at creative live were THE BEST! they are helpful in every way and really made this event something special, i can't say enough about the experience i had and would highly recommend that anyone who has the opportunity to go down for a class, it will be an experience that you will never forget. but the best part of creative live is that wether you are there in person or wether you are watching from the comfort of your own home, you are involved in the class in REAL TIME, you have the ear and attention of the skilled artist giving the instruction, being there myself i can tell you that Renee was regularly given questions and comments from the viewers via the creative live staff and she would respond to them as they came, in that way you are very much apart of the class you are never left without getting that personalized attention of an amazing artist or that specific question you have answered, and even better you have the option to purchase the class and have it as a constant resource in your tool kit that you can refer back to at any point that you need a refresher or want to recall that special technique that was demonstrated. thank you thank you to renee and all the staff at creative live you have a life long member in me. and i would recomend that everyone take advantage of this valuable resource dino maez

stephen lenman

I have completed many creative courses. This is by far the best so far. Quite the most amazing and inspiring presenter with a true passion for their craft. The core information is excellent, but the thing i liked most were her subtle tangents, dropping incredible information completely on the fly. A complete real world honest view of business and practical side of the industry. Especially her advice on how she started to her business. Saving up enough in her day job so she could pay the rent, and do photography for 3-6 months.

Sheldon Carvalho

Awesome class. I've been following Renee for a very long time. I love her work and to finally see her work and get an image done from start to finish was quite something.. I love the way she sees things and the way she treats her work and all fellow creative. I would recommend this to everyone interested in getting into composting. Looking forward to creating and making my own art work. But it now :) Have fun creating. :)