Skip to main content

photo & video

Creative Composites Using Your Own Photo Stock

Lesson 3 of 12

Capture Usable Stock Anywhere You Go

Karen Alsop

Creative Composites Using Your Own Photo Stock

Karen Alsop

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

3. Capture Usable Stock Anywhere You Go
In this lesson, Karen takes you out on the field to show you what to look for when collecting usable elements. Learn the best camera settings to use for different elements and how to capture especially for composite use.

Lesson Info

Capture Usable Stock Anywhere You Go

it's amazing what you can photograph when you're out and about. I often wonder if people think I'm a little bit crazy when they see what I'm shooting and maybe you think I'm not a real photographer but you can get out and photograph all sorts of elements. And that's what I love about composite photography. It's just that freedom to get out with your camera and photographed. Now here today we're not in the ideal scenario for fantastic stock photography when the sun comes out because you get that speckled effect and you don't get the really soft light. But when that light goes behind the cloud, that is when you get the best light for stock photography now, I'm going to be photographing a whole lot elements including walls and concrete, grass, foliage. And I'm going to show you the different settings that I would photograph these on and how you can later use them in your work. So let's get started photographing this. Well I wanted to make sure that we're in the shade because there's a lot...

of sunlight sort of hitting this wall. But with the settings, one thing you wanna keep in mind if you're photographing something flat like a wall and you're straight on, it doesn't really matter what your application is because the depth of field is flat. So it was really dark. I could photograph in on 2.8 but you know, it's it's actually quite bright out here so I can change my aperture up to whatever I want. So I'm gonna set this on F 6.3. Um And I'm gonna change my shutter speed down then I wouldn't want to go below about one 25th of a second because I might shake the camera. Um So I can even go up higher if I need to. My I. R. So is currently on its lowest setting on 64 so I'm just making adjustments until my exposure is correct. Now one of the things that you can take note of is if you're you're using auto iso which I tend to shoot on a lot and it's hitting that base number which on this camera is 60 for. It means that it's over exposing and it's not able to go any further down. Another thing that you can use to adjust the light is your exposure compensation. I'm just gonna get my camera set up so that it looks great in the preview so you can just move your camera around based on what's most important the most important setting and that is fine. Take a photo ready to add to my stock collection. So when you're choosing your settings, most important thing that you need to consider is what do you want in focusing the shot. So if it's flat aperture doesn't matter but if you're photographing something that needs to be in focus front to back and there's quite a lot of depth in it then you want to make your aperture narrower so that everything is in focus from front to back. So I'll show you that next photographing foliage is a little bit different to photographing a flat wall. What you want is this party in focus right through to the back so that when you add it to a composite, it doesn't look out of place. Depth of field is really important aspect. When you're compositing things together, you want them all to be the same. The easiest way to do that is to make sure that your whole shot is in focus. So I'm going to photograph this foliage and I am going to use a narrower aperture. So I'm going to set my camera on F- 11. Now, the reason I don't go all the way up to F22, which this lens will do is because the quality actually degrades the narrower you go. So the lens works the best at about F 11 and I am going to photograph and focus on the midpoint, so not the front or the back but the midpoint so that everything is in focus. And I'll get some close ups and some Pullbacks and a variety of different shots while we were out on location. I also photographed some grass and you can see that I'm photographing this grass from a number of different angles. Again, looking at getting the grass from above, looking down, you can create a great grass pattern from that bit if you're wanting to place grass into a composite and make it look like the angle is correct and the perspective is correct. You also want to get shots of the grass from different heights. So that's an important thing to keep in mind with anything that you're photographing uh including the concrete. So there's some amazing cracks and concrete that can be used in a composite. You can use cracks and add them to things or you could use that ground as a real great base for your composite. But again, wanting to photograph that from different angles, remember if you're photographing from above, looking down at something flat, the aperture actually really doesn't matter because the depth of field is singular. There's only one part that you're focusing on. Nothing is going to drop out of focus. But if you're photographing a landscape from a different perspective and you've got a foreground amid and a background, then you really want to make sure that everything is in focus. So you go to that narrower aperture. Remember to focus on the mid ground, so not the foreground or background or if you know where you're going to place your subject later, then you may focus on that point in the shot as well. One of the other things that I wanted to touch on here was about capturing elements that you can later turn into brushes, You can use these brushes to mask or even to add as elements. So photographing a tree or a branch against a almost white sky. You can very easily extract that out and create a brush from that. Now I'll show you how to create the brush later in the class, but you can see that I'm photographing this branch in front of the white sky now, it was ridiculously windy when we were filming this and I only had a short moment to capture that branch before it just started going crazy and I was being blown away, but I will still be able to use that. I did photograph it on a fast enough shutter speed to capture it And I'll show you how to create a brush from a photo like that one. Just remember, get out, have some fun, try and do it on an overcast day and collect as many photos as you can and then you can capture them and put them into a collection. We'll get onto that shortly.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers. 


  • Photograph textures, atmosphere and elements that you can use in composites.
  • Easily manage your own photo stock library.
  • Shoot miniatures and focus stack.
  • Supersize phone photos and use them in your composites.
  • Create photoshop patterns and brushes.
  • Photograph costumes and dress your subjects in Photoshop.
  • Find creative ways to make anything possible.


There is nothing like the feeling of creating art from your own images. Purchased stock can be a valuable resource, but it shouldn’t be the first solution when you are working on a creative composite.

Learn how to creatively photograph elements that become other elements in a composite. Turn miniatures into life sized elements. Photograph incredible costumes and dress your subjects in Photoshop. Create brushes, textures and patterns from photos that you can use over and over again. Be resourceful and creative in your hunt for elements, and take your compositing to the next level.

These techniques will open up a world of possibilities for your image creation, where anything is possible.


  • Composite Photographers who would like to expand their creativity
  • Photographers that would like to take a leap into the compositing world
  • Anyone that is looking for fresh and unique ways to bring their imaginations to life


Adobe Photoshop 2021 (22.5.0)
Lightroom CC (4.4)
Adobe Bridge 2021


Karen Alsop is an internationally acclaimed Melbourne, Australia-based photographic digital artist. Expanding on two decades of photographic and graphic design experience, Karen brings photography and art together to create stunning artworks that tell a story and take the viewer into another world.

Specializing in Portrait Art, her digital portraiture captures the personality and character of her subjects by placing them within a visual story highlighting their interests. Karen uses the power of Photoshop to composite multiple captures together, making the impossible possible within her art.

Karen's latest project sees her using her compositing skills to give children with severe disabilities the wings to fly. The Heart Project, a joint partnership between Story Art and The Sebastian Foundation is bringing hope worldwide to children and families through the power of photography.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Story Art Education Offer

Actions and Brushes

Camera Files


Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Charlene Mitchell

WOW! I'm not familiar with Karen's work so this was a wonderful surprise! Loved the detail she included in her instruction and her passion shows through in every topic! So many tips and tricks to help 'sell' the finished piece as believable - details I wouldn't have thought of. Going to check out her other class on CL and also her website!

Melissa Helland

Can’t tell you how much I appreciate all I’ve learned from this teacher. Wonderful classes here on Creative Live and her site has even more learning opportunities. Worth every penny of my Creative Live membership just for this class alone!

Cristina Menor

Karen is an excellent teacher. Her lessons are always very well explained and very easy to understand and to follow. You will learn lots of valuable tips. I absolutely recommend this class if you want to learn how to create incredible compositions very near to reality.