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Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 9 of 60

How to Nail the Right Perspective for Your Composite Photo


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 9 of 60

How to Nail the Right Perspective for Your Composite Photo


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 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. :)