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Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 13 of 60

Tips for Culling Images


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 13 of 60

Tips for Culling Images


Lesson Info

Tips for Culling Images

So even though while I was shooting, I totally knew which one I wanted. Alright I'm gonna go through some techniques on how I train my eye for the posing and for the shot. So that I know when I've got it, as soon as I take it as opposed to just shooting five or 600 hundred frames, freezing everybody out and then going through afterwards going oh did I get one, did I not get one? Some of the ways that I've trained myself. So this is, i shoot tethered to Capture One. And I also shoot JPEG and RAW. Some people are like oh why do you shoot JPEG and RAW? Honestly because I have a SmugMug account and my clients, if I'm working with an art director, they like to see all of the images 'cause they're the ones in charge of picking the images. I just upload all the small JPEGs all at once onto SmugMug album so I don't have to convert anything. That's honestly it. You're gonna see lots of duplicates. Because I never take that setting off that camera because knowing me, I would forget. And then I'd...

have to sit there and complain while my computer converted a bunch of JPEGs and I don't want to. Another case here, the sun value was changing throughout the day. On my screen, a lot of that's like totally white. (laughs) That's what happens when you shoot with a laptop. So I know that. But in other case, I'm gonna look at this. And I think I'm gonna plug in my tablet for this. I am going to select this one here. I didn't choose this image, right? I was photographing and I kept photographing because I was like okay well this one's nice but why is this one not nice? I'm just gonna right click and I'm gonna go edit with and I'm gonna go to Photoshop. That is a TIFF and I'm just jumping it over to Photoshop. This is completely unedited because I'm not interested in editing this photo. I'm interested in training my eye as to why this doesn't work. I'm gonna create a new blank layer. And I'm gonna go to my brush. And I'm gonna pick some horrendously awful color like green. And I'm going to zoom in. Come on, wake up, thank you. And I'm gonna figure out what I don't like about this image. Turn this all the way up. So, the thing I do like. I like her face. Her face makes me happy. I'm gonna leave that out. But her torso here, it looks a little bit short, right? Her torso in real life, is not that short but the way the fabric is going, and like I said, in the big skirt, it can sometimes shorten the mid section especially if we have it hyped up a little bit higher on the hips. I'm not a big fan of this. If I was to shoot this again, i would probably get her to drop her hip a little bit further so that her hip would com out this way a little bit more. Right and then maybe her hands could be just a little bit softer. But her hair looks nice. I'm digging that. That looks nice. But also the fabric here, she's kind of boring. It's just like wee, it's just going places. But it's not the image that we picked where it just like flows all together. Where you're just like oh yeah, that looks great. So I'm studying this and I do this with a lot of my shoots. Is I will go through my images and I'll draw on some of them that are close to what I would get but not really what I love. And so I will dissect them and dissect them and dissect them. So that once I'm actually out there posing and taking the shots, there were a couple of times we didn't record it, but there's a couple times where I just didn't take the shot because I watched the fabric move and I was like oh that didn't do what I want it to. I'm not gonna take the picture. I don't wanna store it on my hard drive. That's one of the things that I'll do is I'll sit here and I'll look at this and be like okay well even this line here is boring. Right, it just kind of sucks. So this is kind of lame. This line here is pretty but it could've been better. It's just not that exciting. So when I'm doing this, I'm mentally doing this on my head because I've done this for so many images over so many years. When I was teaching myself photography, I knew that I was gonna have to compete against everybody who had way more experience than me. And I was in crutches. And what I did was I would just literally went into every single image that I would take and I would dissect them as to why it worked, why it didn't work and compare it to other images that had been shot by other photographers and go why does this work? What did they do that I didn't do? And so just analyze and analyze and analyze. Going into these images here, I'm sitting here looking at them. And I'm like, well you know if I was stitching stuff, this image here has potential 'cause the fabric is quite nice. It's got a nice S curve to it. It has a nice texture, right? But her upper body just isn't quite doing it for me. So if I was in the mood to stitch things together maybe that's one thing I would do. So you just like slide through these here and go okay this one here has potential. That curve is nice. You know, we have still that nice little bit of an S curve. The fabric is quite nice. Her face isn't quite what I want yet. So just kind of like going through them. This one, the fabric is boring, right? Same thing. I can tell even just before I go into Photoshop to dissect it, the first thing that's bothering me is that, this is bothering me. And her face is nice. The hair looks kind of nice but, it's just it hasn't hit that point. Her shoulder's a little bit too broad for me and her hips are a little bit too broad for me. And all that comes from posing. So just from sliding along here, I'm looking at this. I'm like ah, well you know, the feet. The shoes would've been nice if they were dark. That would've been better, right? So then I would be more comfortable showing the shoes. Can I Photoshop them black? Of course I can. Do I want to? No. (laughs) So then this one here. Well, okay let's pull this into Photoshop. Go edit with, right click edit with and then Photoshop. And it'll bump over. And I'm gonna sit here and be like okay. So dear brain, why does this work for me? Alright so why is it that as soon as I took this shot, I knew I didn't have to take anymore photos. Alright so, I knew as soon as I looked at it. I was like okay everything's good. Well if I zoom in close and look at her face, her face is beautiful. She has a nice strong jaw line and it's nice and soft with that angle. The sunlight did what it did. There's a little bit of a harsh shadow on her nose but really, I don't mind. It's not distracting. Her shoulders have a nice line here. Line here. So it's going down. So here to here. That line there is very pleasing. It's not straight. Her hips have the same thing, from here to here. We have nice lines from here to here. Great composition has lots of triangles. Well what do we have here? We have a ton of triangles that we're making. Same thing with this. We have this nice pretty curve that's nice and strong and smooth and it's balanced out nicely by here. So it's just a continuation of this curve from one side to the other. So it's very flattering and very nice. We have this little tuft of hair here sticking out and some cases it would distract me but in this case, I think it adds to it. If I was feeling really into compositing I could probably add a bunch more of her hair in. If I was feeling really masochistic, I could draw a bunch of her hair in. I'm not feeling masochistic today. But, another case, looking at these lines even in the fabric, they're very soft. They're very pretty, very feminine and yet it's very strong. Her expression, going off is very pretty. And then knowing what I going to put into the background, this is an image that speaks to me. And these are the reasons why. So that's why, as soon as I see this, I'm already mentally drawing all over it. From there, I mark that one as a five. And then I had a few other here that we just, I was like okay we got it. And so what this means now is that we can play a little bit. I'm like okay, we got the one. That's the one we're gonna work on. And then we can just load up a few more. Like shoot a couple more options and just see if we get anything else. And that's where, you know, I start to play. So in this case here, this is a prime example of why I wanted her toe to be pointed. On the off chance that everything in this photo had been perfect but her foot had been flat, then this would've been an image that I would have either had to stitch in some fabric from another image. Or I'd have to change her foot or I just wouldn't pick the shot at all. So that's why even though she has a long dress on, I'm always trying to make sure that the foot closest to me is something that's a flattering line. So it's nice and soft and gentle and feminine. This is the other one that I really liked. This one is really nice. This one is another example of like I kind of like the fabric, but what's going on around her head is totally not working. So that one's nice. And that one's not too bad. But really, none of them really stand out. This one was very pretty too. In this case, the fabric here on the skirt, I would probably liquefy it a little bit to give it a little bit more dimension 'cause I find this a little bit too straight and that's a little bit too straight. But I mean, it's Photoshop. We can edit and stuff. That's another thing that I can use with that. So I went like, okay, we have another shot that's really really nice. And then we just tried just a couple more things. But really, I mean like this skirt is beautiful. I love the skirt but of course her face was like disappeared, her hair just kind of ate it all. So another example of we could stitch a different head on there if we wanted to. 'Cause this is compositing and we do whatever we want. (laughs) I probably would if I was to replace the head, I would probably take the face from here and put it on here and then take hair from here. Alright so I would just mash it all together and try to make something that makes sense.

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. :)