Skip to main content

How To Create Seamless Photo Composites

Lesson 2 of 5

How to Shoot with Compositing in Mind

 

How To Create Seamless Photo Composites

Lesson 2 of 5

How to Shoot with Compositing in Mind

 

Lesson Info

How to Shoot with Compositing in Mind

as we go forward, I want to speak a little bit about how you planned for this stuff. It's a lot of pieces that goes on here, but it's really quite simple, and I'll show you afterwards. It starts with one place and one background. And the reason for me saying that is that you gotta have a reference point for all the pieces to match up. That's what seamless compositing, yes, have a lot of different pieces match up with the same perspective and same light, and then they will feel seamless to die. Um, it's a movie term for when you lose yourself into the movie and you forget about the practicalities of things. It's called suspending disbelief, and that's what we want to do it with are still pictures to you want to make things so believable that you believe, even though it's not right, So the way we do that is to start with the background plate and then the layer things on top, perfect example and track came to me and they had this idea about what you could do while you were on the train. I...

t started with the background you see on the top layer on the sky and build the image forward background plate. And then I do this. What informs this whole process is the light quality of the background. They wanted son on this image, but it was so foggy outside San Francisco that that fog and that like quality that softness ended up informing the whole foreground process. Right. So everything we do afterwards had to relate to the first. So they planned that way, starting in the back with the idea. I call it the unmovable plate. And then we layer it forward. Happy side, dark side, a lot of pieces. This is how it comes together. The whole reason this works is that you start long place and say, This is my camera height. This is the like quality and everything. I shoot house that follow that order. You can't really control cows, can you? So their solution is to go and shoot cows separately, captured the background plate again. This will inform all other like quality. It should have born I this guy over the sunset in the exact same place. And then they go on, shoot cows with the same light quality and saying camera height. Layer them in there and it makes for what ISS. But I think, at least is a seamless composites more from the same campaign. Believe it or not, there's very little compositing to these pictures, so I want to talk to the opposite a little bit, too. I'm a photographer at heart, not every toucher at heart. So find your aesthetic again, then apply that because of my vision as a re toucher and composite guy got to shoot Absolut vodka and ended up not being compositing at all. It's sets that's built but applied with the same aesthetic, simple image with the sky added in the back. Not so simple. Same campaign. Going to the moon to create a mining field. My most published picture ever. This has gone viral. So many places. It's newspapers all over Asia all over Instagram enough. Rarely do I get photo credit, but it's a story that's created future possibilities. All of these are this is done for Toyota. It's a background photographed up in Washington, maybe for five different background elements, and there's four people in there that's added to it. After 24 problem solving again, How do we create 24 slices to show a day in one image crossing day and night, creating an ice landscape. Same landscape of same place in summer. It's actually shot in winner door Bar Square in Dubai. So imagine coming to Times Square and they ask you to shoot it without people in it said. Same scenario. It managed to shoot small pieces of this square and then retouching out all the people to create one lonely place over a place that has thousands of people not gonna talk about C g. I today because that's very different class. Did you see it applied? Same aesthetic, though in the same process. You start for the background plate that's unmovable, and then you light and C g I to follow. So we're coming up to fairly recent work, and I'll show you a few more of these before you start talking really about how this comes about landscape when you add the people and then you add the scale. So we all heard these things right? You've been hit by a truck run over by train. These are the illustrations, right? These are the ideas that they want to convey in these photographs way came to this place, and it was terrible weather. We worked with that light. We made it into winner, and it took on a completely different feeling again. It's being a problem solver using the computer Simple Sky Replacement Fashion Story. Now what do you do in the talent? Does not want to go into the cold water. You use the computer as a tool. They photographed the dress in the water, photographed her right next to the pool, and they put 22 together. You wanna have someone climbing down a wall stealing a window? I shot that in the loft of my house, so I mentioned this a couple of times. Now put a shop. It's not really the beginning. It's the end. So you have to find what you want to do, what you're passionate about. And then you extend that vision using photography and put a shop. Clients come to me all the time. This is where it's Carlton. They have a line that's the logo and they say, Okay, we want to shoot this lying on this woman. This is how we do it. You shoot the background play when you come into studio afterwards he lighted to feel like the other places, and you put it together and post one more case scenario where we have bad weather. This time this images was done for Brides magazine. He showed up and it was like this. All right, if you didn't have the skill set, But what we're gonna teach you today of compulsive photography, it would be sitting there for days, waiting for the storm to clear, instead set up to tense me under one them all under the other. I use my scouting pictures from a few days earlier, and they managed to create the campaign background lights for gun elements. The model underneath a tent. That's the final picture story about a girl escaping crashing her car. How do you make this happen? But you can't just crashed a car into a national park. So what you do is that you shoot the background, delighted to fit, and then you apply the process when she walks away. But sleeping well, what if all clouds this takes us all the way? Until today and I think I showed you enough examples we're going to get into the creation of it, tell you about this one campaign, though Crystal Cruises came to me and they wanted to travel all over the world to show the place destinations, they have to set together one estimate first showing 10 12 people traveling around the world shooting all these pictures in camera. Turned out it would take us 2.5 months and made too much money. The solution was that I would go to all these places six continents, 11 countries and shoot the backgrounds. Then they had a beacon in the studio in L. A very put together similar backgrounds Similar stuff for people to stand on using what I'm gonna teach you afterwards with the camera perspectives and the light qualities. This is from our studio in Los Angeles and this whole campaign followed that process been is iris people shot in studio Barcelona People shot in studio Costa Rico, New Zealand, Alaska, Rome wine country. Let us Mozambique wanted to shoot on this small little island had only appeared at low tide. But to get all this stuff out to that island at low tide taken mountain and you only had a few hours what we do to go out there to shoot this and bar at low tide. And then they set up people in the cabana on the beach higher up, and they execute the campaign. This is very recent to me being in India. Enjoy poor. And they have this beautiful elephants. I wanted to shoot one in front of the fort. They've been let us have them there. So I shoot the fort. I should elephant and I put them together. And this takes us to the case study of these two beautiful people. Old guy and a girl taken off. If you have any questions, when it comes to how it comes together to please feel free to ask. Yeah, okay. You make it seem very simple, Um, in the way that you put it together. But it seems like it's hours and hours of work that actually goes into one photo. So how long does it take to put one of those together? It completely depends. You gonna put one together today? Half an hour. So this fine tuning, right? So this won't be a retouching class per se. I will show you how I do my composites. So you you need to look elsewhere to cut out the hair and all that stuff that will take us an hour. That's fine tuning of the work, but for me to get all these pieces into place, Maybe so. This is what I do for commercial assignments to give you an answer. Whenever I do this kind of work, I always do the first pass myself. I don't be touching, as I said for 20 years, so I always do the first pass myself. That usually takes maybe half a day to a day. I take all the pieces at the color palette at this guy and make it mine. And then I had it off to a re torture will help matching, although all the hair and stuff I could do it. I did it on this picture, but that's a time consuming process, so it can take you anything from a day I just finished his picture. 898 layers is the biggest fall ever done. Took me two weeks. It's massive, and I'm excited to share with you what it is. It will come out in a few weeks, so yes, it can take anything from just a few minutes to a really long time tested patients, so yeah, but it's fun, though. I think if you're passionate about it and you have a vision you want to see fulfilled, I think that's the key to sit down and say, Oh, I'm gonna do something on the computer can wipe a tedious But if you feel like you're going somewhere and you're scratching the surface of something great, I get tenacious about it and I dig in and get excited about finishing the picture. So it's a long answer, but there's no rhyme or reason to it, but to be a master photo shop. Okay, so I'm gonna go through it afterwards. But this master aspect of food shop, it's so intuitive now it's a very simple tool. When I'm gonna show you in my process, it's really so for me. I don't alter too much. I don't sit there in their skins and pours. I put pieces together, and it's if it's done right, like we're gonna talk about first. But the light and the perspective match up. It's really just putting two things together and cutting it out, and there it is. There's color issues at times the contrast issues and we'll talk about that. But that, too, is just to three different layers and Photoshopped. We'll talk about it, but I really used 34 different layers. That's it. That's my process for each layer, right? So that's the color. That's a contrast. Is the saturation on each one and then you stack it and it becomes big. But yeah, it's pretty in the elements of it, it's really simple. I noticed that your sometimes work with a crowd off for a crew. So do you share with them? Your vision, the end idea? Oh, are brainstorming together or you have in your head and you just kind of guide them to to get the crap the pieces to put it all together? No, we were together for sure. So yes, in this, But let me pull that back up in this instance, right? I do Mood boards do some pictures of what the guy should feel like, what the clothing should feel like. And then I have helped. That will sort of help Go get those clothes, cast the people, but its easy right. When I started out, I did a less off myself. So yes, you need to engage people to help you out. I think that's important for everyone, really, To build a good crew that could help you. You could start out with simple things, and that's the beauty off. I think composites. You can really get high, high, high production value images just like I did traveling around for crystal cruises. You could do the same when you travel, shoot a background, make note off. So this is what happens when I travel. I see a place and I think, Oh, what's happening here who have been here before me He was gonna come next? What? What is this place? And through that I get visuals. And I think it's that old guy. Is there a beautiful girl who is it that fulfills that story and then the picture start layering. So what you do then, is to make sure your focus in the front where you want the person to be, you take the measurement of the distance and then you have a background plate. Then you can come later on. Shoot a friend put that in and suddenly you have someone maybe hiking to him. Elias and you were there on your own. So I think there's a way to really build an exquisite body of work portfolio that has really high production value, which advertising agencies are looking for for a very small amount of money. Then you use the computer. In this way, the pictures do look magical. When you add this pieces together, I think it adds something to it. That special Eric. I think that's what folks at line are really intrigued about as well is that conceptualizing process? And someone had asked You sketch the concept first on paper. How definite an image you have in your head before starting and how much much might be serendipitous. And that's from Randall in Canada. It's both. Yes, it's both both Fisher. I'm terrible enjoying, You know, I see photographer storing up beautiful sketches, and I think, man, I wish I could draw for me. It stick figures and ideas and yeah, it's up here. And then I reference it with other pictures to that. I love, for instance, color palette, tonality who the people are references, especially if I have a crew so they can see you know if there's for an advertising agency, there's always lay out. You know that. Start there and then later on top of it. So, yeah, there's always not always 99% of the time. They start with the idea, and I'm gonna speak to that in a minute. All right, so I kind of spoke to this already, but here it is. Idea first. So how do we get to the scope or photography, right. How do you do? You get to this bigness and idea and landscape. You get to it by starting with the idea. I can't stress enough where people fail where I see they fail and compulsive photography is that they have a picture and they have another picture, and they think they're gonna put it together and it's gonna fit. It doesn't really. So you start with the idea. What do you want to execute? What is the feeling? What is the story you can have a background like I just said, if you come to a place and you shoot a background, you could develop that idea sooner. But you got to capture it with the knowledge of my put something in there later. The reason for that is that if you focus on the background If you're traveling, for instance, since you talked about this as an example, you focus on the back. Around your foreground will be auto focus. That doesn't make sense. If you're gonna put a person in there later, right then the person will be standing on autofocus. Ground doesn't make any sense. You gotta focus where the person stands, and then you can develop it from there so they could talk for an hour and 1/2. My whole lecture about ideas and where they come from. I would start by reading a book. If you're in lack of ideas, read something or read a poem. But it's extraordinary. Officials, right, cause when you read, you create the visuals in your mind's eye. It's not copying someone else. It's you re interpreting words such a read, and it's a beautiful, beautiful source for creativity. So if you read your favorite book again, think about it as visuals. Who's the character? Why do you like that character? Why do you not like that character? Take all those tidbits and then create your picture. It's a beautiful way to get started. If you feel like you don't really know quite where your footing it's and what you're drawn to. Um, if you look at my lecture three years ago for a week, I do talk about finding your style and your vision and some tools that's in that lecture. You could check that out as well. I have a little diagram of what you should be looking for. Color tone contrast, people. All that stuff is in there on how to create your style. Envision. I mentioned this, and I went through all this pictures, the unmovable element. Then you have come up with your idea, and you know what? You want to shoot. You start on place again. The idea that composite photography or a seamless one is that you want to start with something that has a reference to your light into your camera. Heightened settings. From there, everything follows, so it's really important to know that you don't start with the person and add it back onto it. You can, but it's harder. This is what happens if you shoot a person and you want to match the light on that person. It's not easy to turn a landscape around. It's not easy to turn you know this river another direction, because light doesn't add up, but it's easy to turn a person. So what you do is you start with what I call the unmovable plate, your pocket on the landscape, the thing that will dictate the light in the direction. And then you could add the other elements to it. Smaller elements, like people you could turn around. Course you could turn around, and then you layer it on top for a case study today. This is my unmovable part, but wanting to shoot there for a long time. This is in Bishop, California, and they drove their set up the camera and then made it for the light. Now the other compulsive pieces that you see that comes into this, it's really just two pieces. It's the clouds, and then it's the woman and the guy on the hand cart. But I did. When I came here, I thought, Okay, I gotta visualize about this. People want to be buried. I put my focus, you know, I knew that they would be in a hand cart, which would be two feet off the ground because of the gravel and then another two feet off there because of the carps, they would stand pretty tall, so my camera needed to be pretty told, but But the camera low can carton them, sort of disappear into the landscape. So the idea is that you have the idea. First, do the unmovable plate, make sure you visualize it and then had the pieces to fit. This is a video, all of the background coming together. As you seen when I done these little segments, I should left and right. I add the cloud. So to not today we touched this whole background. I'm gonna show you really quick habits how it's happening, and you're gonna open up the file afterwards so you can see all the layers in practicality. But this is what happens. This is an hour and 1/2 in just about a minute. So when I shoot my left and rights, there's this merge feature and for the shoppers, others offers to that commercial stuff together. But what happens? This They merged by pixel. They don't match by visuals, and the whole thing gets really distorted. And it sort of defeats the purpose of shooting with this sort of for me anyway. this panel technique because you want to keep that expansiveness. You use the merch feature, it tweaks it and takes that away. So for me, you see, I do this by hand or on layering, thes left and right. Panitz. When I come to a place like this, I always think, man, this is beautiful. That's beautiful. And how can I add all this stuff in it? So you see me lining the picture out, but this line leading into the picture. But there was no line here. So I take another piece and I could died on the right and you get this sort of tunnel composite composition going into the frame. When I got there, the mountains were too far away. I wanted to be closer to them. There was a big reason for me wanting to be there. But when you start shooting, death almost just distorts the mountains became too small, and I bring them forward using the computer. So there's two pictures there for the background, one that's wider to get the grass and the texture, one that's longer to get the mountains closer than the ad the sky, making sure that it fits with the light quality, having the sun and pretty much the same place. And that IHS an hour and 1/2 for work.

Class Description

As the market becomes more competitive, it gets harder to stand out from other photographers to potential clients. Creating strong conceptual ideas through compositing allows you to defy what can be accomplished within a single camera frame.

Erik Almas is an international commercial photographer who is known for his visually stunning composite work. In this class, he will show you what tools you’ll need to create a truly seamless composite. You’ll learn about light, the proper lenses, camera positions and settings as well as establishing the proper workflow to simplify the post process. He’ll share simple illustrations to explain what the most common mistakes are in composite photography and how to avoid them.

By the end of this class, you will have the tools to start creating beautiful composites of your own.  


Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.5.1

Reviews

a Creativelive Student
 

If you are expecting to learn how to composite, this is not the course for you. However, if you want to know the fine details of compositing well, you want to refine your work, this is the course.