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Starting to Composite

Lesson 26 from: The Creative Newborn Photography Studio

Julia Kelleher

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Lesson Info

26. Starting to Composite

Lesson Info

Starting to Composite

this morning we're going to get into things some things that are pretty advanced so I want to warn you right off the bat that I may lose a few of you especially those of you watching at home who may be a beginner or someone just starting out in photo shop just be warned that some of the things I'm going to address today are going toe bb over your head when you teach a course like this that can be really challenging because you have such a broad range of student from those first starting out to those who wanted to get something new has been doing it a long time it could be enormous challenge to help everyone s o this this morning and then also in karol painter that's where we're going to get pretty technical and advanced with how we take our photographs tart so those of you who I do lose I'm gonna apologize in advance a little bit carell you could cover three days alone on carl painter and I think there are on on creative lives some workshops you can go on purchase that address just cor...

ral painter s so keep that in mind it's same with photoshopping compositing I could literally spend three days doing that alone so just be patient with me if I lose you I'm happy to answer questions of course as always but I think if you if I do go over your head I want you to just kind of sit back and relax and take it in and enjoy how much more there is to know about photo shop and understand that this is a lifelong learning process and be excited by the fact that you have so much more to learn and that you can increase your technical skills that much more try not to get overwhelmed by it don't let george beat you up about it because I mean I've been in digital photography since two thousand six I've been photographing since I was fifteen years old when my dad bought me my first nikon eight thousand eight a film camera so I've been doing digital started here a long time and it's really just in the last two years that I've started taking compositing to thiss level so keep that in mind I still have boatloads to learn as well and photoshopped the other thing I want to address is there are one hundred two ways to skin a cat and photoshopped okay you can do the same thing multiple ways and the way I do it probably isn't always the right way but for them a fastest way or the most efficient but it gets the job done and there is so much to learn and photoshopped that oftentimes what I'm going to be showing you may not be the most efficient way to do things so forgive me in advance if if you see something you like oh she could totally done that easier probably but to me that the biggest thing is about being creative and having that joy through that process and the result is still it still works okay and when you look at the finished product of the end doesn't move you does it evoke emotion is doesn't attain the goal that you wanted it to achieve okay so what is a composite what are we what do we think of as a composite which us maybe answer that question for me ali multiple and just putting together yeah basically layering things together creating a new image from other images okay and anything is possible these days I mean if you look at movies and great in movies or motion but you look at movie posters you look at anything like that graphic design work you'll see that there's so many ways tiu make one new image out of multiple other images I mean you could really do anything these days and sometimes that power to do anything can be very overwhelming and be like oh my gosh where do I start so that is that begs the question how do you start um and people always ask me you know where where do you get your ideas you know where does this come from something that you had in your head first and then you just put it down on the page or is it just kind of come as it came you just kind of sit down and start working and it just happened well let me tell you it's both sometimes there's pre visualization and sometimes I just sit down and all let's see what we can do today you know and just things start rolling and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't you have to be willing to let things work or not and not upset with yourself if it's not working okay so ah good composite starts with a compelling story okay since we have the power to do anything you better do something you don't mean you better have a good story better of oak emotion you don't just want to slap things together on the screen expecting there to be a good outcome you have to think about your story okay and the emotion that you want to convey in the image because there are no limitations you have to give the viewer something to grab on to emotionally does that make sense so whether that be your subject whether that be the environment you're putting your subject in I mean when you look at you he has arrived it's the animals that create the story you know we have two rabbits there three birds a squirrel in a deer all coming to meet this woman in the forest who has just given birth to her little boy so there's a story there and its has a glorifying feeling to it the light the color the color implies an emotion the warmth if that image was very cruel and blew it would be a lot different image wouldn't it so that warmth to it really gives it a story as well okay so fill it with emotion elements you choose should offer connotation they should offer meaning you know and but the funny thing is is that meaning could be implied the animals in the forest okay where did they come from what do they mean you know do squirrels have any deeper meaning and art maybe you could come up with something and that's the allure of art when you look at something and you want to know why the artist did it why did they put that there what's the meaning behind it are they trying to say something to me those when you can evoke those kinds of questions in the art piece that's when it starts to become successful okay you guys have long looked at art before and you thought that little dove sitting in the tree what does that represent peace innocence joy purity death sometimes a dove represents death you know so ravens are very mysterious that way I mean ravens khun ad if I had this little girl here called alone in the woods if I had added a rave in in one of the trees in the background you would have felt a little darker about the image wouldn't you you have been like woo scary alone in the woods so things that you put into it offer that meaning and that story and it's very important to be thinking about those things as you lay or something into a composite so consider your tone do you want it to be a moody piece ethereal light and happy do you want it to be sad or thought provoking you want it to be confusing do you want people to be like oh I don't know what to think about this roth key is a a wonderful painter and his work as he progressed through his life became very confusing you look at it it's just I mean if you look up his work it's sewn up I mean it's so opposite of me it's very modern abstract color blocking type art it's the kind of art that when you're young stern you don't know anything about you go well I could pay the this just two blocks of color you know but when you really dig deep into the meaning of his paintings it's very confusing but at the same time thought provoking and inspirational so that's why his art is great even though it may just be a yellow square next to a black square do you know I mean so this type this type of thinking about art and studying art will make you a better photographer it'll make you a better composite er it'll force your clients to be very thought provoking about your images which will get them emotionally connected to them and want to buy them okay so it starts also with your style really consider who you are as an artist and the last segment of today I really want to focus on finding your inner voice and your style and what art means to you every all ten of you right here and all of you out there you are all unique every single one of you not one of you is the same in your style and you have to dig deep and find out what that is and be true to that style can it change over time oh you betcha has my style changed over time in the last year it's changed you look at my work a year ago and you'd be like oh my gosh that's totally different than what she does now that's ok it's ok to change your style your personality is going to change over time if you study the great artist roth keeping one of them he started with this classic you know rembrandt style painting and then moved on into you know he developed the style as he grew older okay life experience changes us so it's ok to change but you need to be true to your style for who you are in the current moment does that does that make sense about making that clear okay so the other thing to consider is sometimes it happens in advance sometimes you have no idea where to start this one here I had no idea where to start I did this last sunday because I knew I was coming here and I gotta put some together that's pretty simple that they could do and I you're going to see what happens when I when it doesn't go right and sometimes you just start to play with things like okay what background can I do you know you just start playing and that's creative play and you have to encourage yourself when we talked about on the first day to do that with no regard for the result don't worry about the result worry about the result more as you go along rather than when you first start sometimes it's a play by play sometimes you're just going to go take things out put things back in take things out you're goingto it's just gonna be like a mixed mash it's kind of like cooking if you have a recipe and you follow the recipe step by step by step you'll create a great meal right is long to follow directions you'll be fine there are some chefs who know exactly what they want to cook they want to cook pork tenderloin with mustard crust and all these different herbs and flavors they've got in their mind and they just throw it together not from a recipe but just bam bam bam okay and it comes out beautiful okay then their chefs who will be like I want to make something good today what do I have in my in my pantry well let's plot that okay what can I put that with maybe this uh ok and then they at the end they are there come out with a great meal or it's a little well that's what happened with this it turned out first so I went back to scratch started over and re cooked it and it came out okay so don't be afraid of just playing around on the fire and seeing what happens okay usually something will always trigger a direction it'll be a mood it'll be a subject for me it was the subject of this painting I really loved how she was looking down at him it was her little brother it's swore siblings three of them are girls and this is she's the oldest and this is her baby brother and so something intrigued me about the way she was looking at him and so that's kind of why I picked her and that triggered my direction with tiffany and that painting it was a little pre visualized I knew I wanted her in the forest at first you'll see my my bomb on that one too how it first started and at first I wanted to peer heavenly like she had been blessed with a child by god and it didn't work so then I just started playing with it I didn't have a direction at that point but the feeling I wanted to convey was still there it's much more subtle now okay so I'll show you that here in a minute less is more sometimes a piece can get too complicated and when you're first starting out it's best to just keep it simple a subject in the background don't try to overdo it as you become better at it then you can start layering things into it and thinking about composition so keep that in mind composition is very important conceptualization sometimes when you first start out you'll want to go run with a theme so you could do a serious study like I've told several of you in here I'm studying the mother child relationship right now and that conceptual piece we did yesterday you filled that in my heart it's definitely I do not have the greatest relationship with my mother is a matter of fact I don't have very much of a relationship at all with her which is very unfortunate but sadly we all have our family drama right so I over the years of me studying this in my art I've come to realize that I'm filling that void I'm trying to find my mother in my art so you will find yourself doing this on a personal level and these images yeah some of them see the light of day and some of them don't I mean there's tons of stuff on my hard drive that will never ever see the light of day that's okay sometimes it's just for me so don't be afraid to do that either just do something because it means something to you not because it'll mean something to anyone else okay sometimes you want to seem sometimes would be like oh I want to run with the ocean thing I want to do conceptual pieces that have to do with the ocean just a subject of some kind or a color I want to work with red do you know I'm saying so if something flutters your heart aaron spirit makes your heart staying as I call it run with it see what happens and then you maybe you'll want to keep doing it again and again again and do you feel like you've really grafts to hold of it like I have not grasped a hold of my mother will I ever probably not and I'll probably die missing that my whole life but this sensitive for me this creating this in my art touch I'm sorry I can't go on a cz you can see it can be very it can be very hard on the sole but also very healing so you will find yourself wanting to do things that may be painful but it will really help you get past a hard point in your life and happiness too I mean babies are just wonderful and they make you feel good so it could be a happy moment as well okay so sorry I'm sorry about that a relationship and experience you had maybe a dream dreams are amazing composites because there's so mystical in your mind and you can't quite pictured on paper so your dream may not be exactly what the composite is but it'll embrace the spirit of it so use dreams use a mood you want to convey a story you want to tell I'm as you guys all know I'm conceptualizing in my head of a peace on postpartum depression it's a self portrait will we ever see the light of day I don't know I don't know if I'm gonna want to show it to anybody I might just want to keep it for myself as as a testament to my own experience you know ah lot of art is healing for the artist ah lot of artists just expression and that's why we do this is to express who we are so that's why I encourage you teo do things from your own heart and in your own style copy to get the technical skills steel to express your own inner being that's where art is truly great is when you express it and hell or treasure or grow from what you just created okay sorry to get a little emotional you guys so anyway I dream you had etcetera etcetera so pre visualizing taking what's in your mind to the screen draw it out keep an idea journal you guys saw my little yellow moleskin book that I have that thing goes with me everywhere I will draw stick figures okay get those ideas down on paper this is my stick figure of that piece okay that's he has arrived in my journal exciting e but I knew what it wass in my head this is how it first started okay it didn't work for me some people think it works everybody's going that's beautiful just like I love it I didn't like it the bright spot in back is too bright it's taking your eye away from her it's too in your face religious it was too much for me okay so then it ended up turning into this I flipped it toned it down used a different background added the animals and named it he has arrived the first name I think was blessing from above how much more subtle an innuendo is this for that religious connotation than the other piece how much more does this provoke your thoughts it's much more successful that way and it's I the previous one you know this one here I shelved this for five months before I tackled it again I photographed tiffani lost april for this okay started playing with it I wouldn't even show it to her I was so like I'd hate this I hate this I hate this george was just free and beat me up okay so I shelved it and it wasn't until the beginning of august that I tackle it again and I finished it in two days it took forty hours to finish okay I was up all day every day finishing it because I got one of those streaks and I said ok keep going keep going you know when you get in the zone all you artists understand what the zone is about when you get into it you don't want to miss it and you don't want to let it go and those of us who are married to like scientists and engineers bless their hearts they put up with us you're laughing with because when you get in the zone is like there is no stopping don't let me stop and less rob's heart I love you sweetie he puts up with me doing this and sometimes I think he wants to wring my neck but hopefully you have spell I know a lot of people are divorced because their creative spouses are just a little too creative sometimes you will find yourself with limitations of lack of technical skills might drive you up the wall it'll frustrate you I know that you need them and learn those technical skills okay george will pastor you over this you may get stuck in one spot shelve it be patient with yourself if that happens ok this one is called her little lamb another pace this is my good friend teresa and her baby girl who will be one who just turned one I photographed this mama but you know how I do the shot all the time waste up that shot was waste up I was frustrated because I needed to get a skirt in there and I didn't know how to do it I increased my painting skills and learn how to put that skirt in by incorrect painter so that skirt was all hand painted in with carol painter but I had to stop on this one for a while too because I didn't have the technical skill to move it forward okay so understanding the class acronym the technical rules of painting or of compositing excuse me c stands for color okay so the color tone of all the elements you're putting in half to have to coordinate they have to match you don't want a cool subject on a warm background or look strange okay lighting lighting is so important ok lighting direction has to make sense if tiffany he was lit from the left camera no camera right her left that image would not make sense at all maybe like what where's the light coming from okay it looks funny if the light is not right and you're going to totally start looking at composites completely differently now and when you see a bad composite it is so obvious now you'll be like oh my gosh that person so do not wonder what they were doing okay atmosphere the sense of perspective and distance okay so you know sometimes you just have a background that looks like it has a good distance like this one with a little girl in the woods alone in the woods the background I got from stock photography I was in a hurry so I didn't use a library that I had shot I just got something off shutter stock and started working with it and the image was already like that so it gave that sense of perspective but when I put the little girl in there with her brother I had to add the fog in the foreground to give it that sense that it belonged okay we'll show you how to do that size and perspective is the last one the size of the object has to make sense within the environment you place it the angle of shooting if I had photographed her looking down on her it wouldn't have worked because your eye would be like whoa backgrounds like this and subjects like this woo I would have just totally looked off okay so make sure when you're shooting for composites you shoot everything at the same angle that's going in the in the piece okay and often times I always advocate using the same lens so that you're not I mean you don't always have to use the same lens but like if you use a super wide angle and then eighty five it's gonna look funny okay yeah ellie how does it work in competition when certain elements are photographed by the maker it depends on the competition people is okay with it and it depends on what category of competition you're in the master artist category is all about your ability to create images from some from nothing it's not and you can you can use images from any maker as long as you have permission to do so w p I it's not the case they want you to shoot it all yourself so it just depends on the competition on dh what categories you're entering so keep that in mind you have to read the rules on each competition to determine that I only compete in w p I and in people circuits I don't do anything it's oh my gosh it's exhausting to do it so it's on I've honestly I've only competing to be people I once people is more my room so so where do I get elements shoot him yourself you stalk imagery or borrow them from friends I know a lot of folks who borrow imagery from other photographers that they need michelle parsley I mentioned her yesterday he's a friend mind she borrows images from all of her friends that she needs for her pieces and sometimes she was hand paint stuff herself so as you get good and better you'll find and get in this realm of people who do this you'll and you'll have other photographers whom you love who do like pet work and you only do babies and you want to put a dog in a piece borrow that a dog that they've shot that you need a special breed or something like that from them okay so the biggest thing to do is to build a library of stuff and light room is great for cataloguing all that I'm not a huge light room users may in fact I'm really disorganized when it comes to my my stock library I don't keep things very well but I strongly encourage you to do that because then in light room you could just tag things like clouds and all your cloud images will show up so I honestly I need to get better with that light room and he's over there going todo so the techniques that you're gonna want to master and photo shop are these okay selections and extracting taking something off a background okay layer blend modes are going to be super important okay layer styles in her shadows out or glows bev als all that kind of stuff is very important very useful layer masks if you don't understand layer math don't even try to do this okay later mask is probably one of the first selections and extracting and later masks or one of the first things you should probably learn then blending modes okay the brush and art history brush tools we talked about those a little bit yesterday they're amazing for blending and helping you bring in shadows and that's the other thing is creating a shadow on that you know on the ground on this piece here this shadow in here was all painted in with the art history brush tool okay and there's a lot of different ways to do it but if you have the skivvies basic skills in photo shop it's going to help you and then grady ints radiance will help you really blend things together okay so grady ants are probably on the low end of the list but very important to learn as well okay so just briefly this is how I started this piece two backgrounds stock photography is playing around like oh I could combine those together and this castle noise traunstein that I thought was really pretty and my my little girl okay so this is her photographed in studio right and then I combined them together to make this which I hate it I just didn't like it okay it's not working a little bunny rabbit on the right looks ridiculous nothing looks like it matches the girl's too hot bright the scarf wasn't moving in the direction that I wanted it to the fall of looks funky and I'm like oh this is a disaster the background combining looked kind of cool you know it's combining the two background together to create that long look was neat and I have had the lines and there that I wanted that kind of sense of distance and perspective and the composition going on but it just wasn't working so then I took my little raccoon and this background which now you can see very obvious is this one here and combined those to make the final result which I'm pretty happy with at this point it's not perfect but I am pretty happy with it

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Ratings and Reviews

Norma Martiri

Julia is amazing and has delivered a brilliant class here. Her wealth of knowledge and positive energy is inspiring to say the least. Julia is a brilliant teacher and I've learned so much. I am so grateful to Julia and to Creative Live for recording this and for the fact the I can rewatch over and over from the other side of the world. Thank you!!!!!!


Amazing course! I love it! I will for sure be re-watching it very soon. Julia is brilliant, honest, unselfish and just a great inspiration. This course definitely has given me the boost I needed to be true to my style. Thank you!


I've had the privilege of attending a few of Julia Kelleher's workshops and I love them. She's a great instructor with a cheerful disposition and a great sense of humor. Julia's photographic genius is like no other. This truly talented woman creates masterpieces out of her photos. It is really amazing to watch. I'm beginning to collect her workshops b/c for me attending her workshops is not enough. I have to own them so I may go over them again and again.

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