Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography


Lesson Info

How to Nail the Right Perspective for Your Composite Photo

So this location I chose because it's pretty easy. It's simple, it's something that most of us around the world can find something like this. I chose a sandy beach area, because it's gonna be really easy to cut out. It's not gonna be tons of work, spending lots of time cutting out piece and piece, strand by strand of grass, we can do that another time, but for this case here, we wanna, we basically wanna take images and look at the location and say what can we do with this? And what can we do with this without spending 30 or 50 hours in Photoshop making a photo manipulation. So I chose this, because it's a nice cliff edge, and I have a lot of distance here that I can add things into the background, and so what this means is that if I have background pieces that I shot that are far away, in which case I'm using a mountain range, or at least the plan so far is to use the mountain range that I photographed up in the rocky mountains in Alberta, and I shot far enough away with the same lens...

and a similar aperture that we're using today, that it's gonna make sense. So it's relatively easy to cut out. We're not gonna have any craziness going on with her dress, you know, with, with, you know grass. We're gonna have consistency. The other part of course is that I don't wanna have a sand beach and then try to put in a background where there's, maybe a lot of rainforest or maybe there is like an, an isle of sky for example. I went there, and I was looking at possibly doing that, but the sky doesn't have sand like this, so it wouldn't make sense, but the rocky mountain range that I'm using, the color that's used in the rock is very similar to the sand here, so it's basically, we can kind of make this a little bit more believable, so we're making this nice and easy for ourselves today. One of the things that happens when you shoot on location is that the sign doesn't always play along. We booked to shoot this in Seattle, because Seattle typically has horrible weather all year round and as usual when I come to places that have horrible weather all year round, we get sunshine, so this happens to me all the time, and that's what's happening today, so this means that when we're editing in the future, we're gonna have to take into consideration a lot more of the lighting, so we have directional light. It's very harsh right now, so the shadows on her face, when she pulls her hood down, are gonna be really, really strong, so we're gonna try to balance that out a little bit, with a strobe here, we have a pro-photo, and it's bare bulb, and we're gonna just try and soften those shadows on her face a little bit, and we're gonna build this in, and we're just gonna see what we can get with this, so this is, this is a downside of if you don't have a studio, and you wanna shoot composite photography, you're gonna be battling with elements a lot, and that's okay. It just means it's one more level of complexity, that you're gonna have to deal with. So, one of the things that's gonna happen, so composite photography doesn't have to be shot in the studio, it's simple as that. You can totally shoot composites on location, and so this is, the whole point of this class is that no matter what skill you have, or no matter what tools you have available to you, you can start building composites, so this is very simple, well, very simple ways to do composites. And so in this case here, we're dealing with the sun, and so the sun was like, it was out, it was gone, it was out, it was gone, and we're just like ah. So if you're shooting this kind of stuff and you don't have a lot of time, then it just means that the more directional light you have in your original image, the more work it's just gonna be to line things up in post-production, especially with your lighting and everything else. So, that's just kind of one of those things that goes into this world. (laughs loudly) So do we have any questions on that? Yeah, a couple questions, one is the, the art of mixing artificial light with, with natural light, are you gonna go more into that? Is that something we'll talk about or do you wanna expand on that now? We'll, we'll spend a lot of time on lighting tomorrow, but in this case, yesterday, what I wanted to do, because there was such harsh sunlight coming this way, if I put a bare bulb far enough back, of course the light source gets smaller, but the spread of light gets wider, right? So, if you look at light coming out, it's kind of like when you're spraying a hose, right, when you have a hose, and so it starts very narrow, and it starts to spread out more and more and more. So, if I move that light part far back and I turn the power up, we're gonna get more spill across your body, even though it's still gonna be a very harsh light. So I was essentially changing the direction of the sunlight a little bit, and you'll see it in the images, where it looks like the sunlight is now coming from another direction, because it's a harsh light, but there's still lots of bouncing light coming around from everything else, so the shadows are a little bit more in control, and they're not quite as top down, so just a little bit more flattering, so I didn't photograph it, so the background was gonna go dark. I just filled it to basically reduce the amount of shadows on her face, and maybe just add a little bit more highlight from a different direction, so that we have some, like more pleasing light on her face, that's all that is. We're just gonna pretend that nature doesn't make us all look like we're 90 in direct sunlight, that's all that is. (laughs loudly) And, and the internet would also like to know how, how high did you have to pump up that strobe to overcome the natural light? It was pretty high, I don't actually remember, to be honest with you, I, I was shooting around F 13, so we'll see in the final images though. You'll see, it'll all make a lot more sense, but it was, it was quite high, but I wanted to make sure that I wasn't photographing it, so that everything else was going dark, right? So if I had turned the power up all the way, the only way I would get a proper exposure on her face, without blowing up, would be to turn up the aperture and the shutter speed, so that everything else in the image is going dark. I don't want everything in the image going dark. So we'll talk about that with the exposure video next, yeah. Perfect, and you guys of course, feel free to chime in with questions, and I do have one more before we continue. Can you talk a little bit about a couple things. One, permits, like whether you get permits for like I know we were in Discovery Park for this, and I'm sure there maybe was some sort of permitting situation, and then when you shoot buildings, a lot of your images have buildings in them, do you get special permission, because then you're gonna go out and sell that work? Yeah, so permits is kind of a terrifying thing, and it's actually one of the reasons why I like doing composite photography, because then I don't have to get a permit, to have a whole team of lighting and everything. I can just go in there, scroll around with my camera, and leave, but I mean as far as, one of the things that I'm very hesitant about, and why I haven't started selling more stock footage, 'cause I have a stock store through my website, but why I haven't started selling more stock footage, of like some of the ruins and everything else that I've shot, is that I don't actually know what the legalities of selling those images are. I know they're available on stock sites, so I'm sure that there are availabilities for that, but I'm not a lawyer and I haven't spent a lot of time with lawyers on that, so generally if I'm do, creating images for sale, I will modify the buildings enough, so that they're unrecognizable, or I won't use buildings that I'm remotely in doubt of, so like if you're shoot, if you're photographing in say Los Angeles, or something like that, if you don't have a permit for a building that's like that big in your shot, but it's recognizable, you know they, in the states, they actually can go after you for it, if you're using that image commercially, and you don't have a permit for it, so things to keep in mind, that permits can be extremely important, so do your research, and if it means you know, talking to a lawyer about that, it's probably time well spent.

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