Shoot Props and Self-Portraits for Composites


Simple Backdrops for Compositing


Lesson Info

Shoot Props and Self-Portraits for Composites

We're going to move on to actual shooting this image now. And I wanna walk you through a few of the things that I would definitely do before I went into Photoshop. And a couple of those things are really simple, and a couple are maybe things that you might overlook when you're shooting for a composited image. One of those things is to think about the angle of your camera, how high are you, how low are you, and what does your background image look like? Another thing that you have to think about is your depth of field. Do you want a lot of blur in the background, or do you want everything to be nice and crisp? So that's what I'm thinking of when I'm going to set my camera, and get all of my props in place. But the first thing that I need to do is get a couple of test shots and I really wanna see how my props look in this situation. So, first of all, I'm shooting with a Sony A7R camera, and I'm going to set this camera right now, to my typical settings. And I might adjust this later. So ...

right now, I'm at F2.5, and I'm actually going to switch that, and go up to about 5.6. I would normally shoot it at four, but I'm going to go a little bit higher for this particular image because I'm shooting a teacup, and I'm going to make that teacup look much larger, which means that I actually have to be quite close to the teacup to make it look big later on in Photoshop. So, I'm going to go a little bit higher with my f-stop, just to have a greater depth of field for that particular image, and I might as well just keep it at that for all the rest of my images, because the background doesn't matter too much in this situation. A good thing to note that if you're cutting somebody off of a background, particularly if you have a lot of hair; little pieces of hair flying around, it's really good to have quite a low f-stop so that you can have a greater depth of field from your subject to your background. The more blur there is, the more the tool in Photoshop that you use to cut that hair off of the background is going to recognize that separation. So it's really good to keep in mind that you want a crisp subject, with crisp hair, and a blurry background for better cutting. But, in this case, we're blending. We're going to blend our background in to the new room that we're moving our subject into. So, it doesn't matter quite as much right now. So I've got my settings at f5.6, and I am at one one hundredth of a second, and ISO 250. And that's what I am going to stick with right now until I decide I need something else. So let's get the teacup in place. And here I am simply pulling out the fabric, just making sure that it's not going to block the teacup, which right now, it is. So, instead, since it's going to be a little... I have a little too much fabric there. I'm just going to grab this book, set it on top so it's nice and clean, and we still have that red background, which in this case, we don't actually need to worry about that much. So, if you're photographing something such as a teacup or any object that's solid, that isn't see through at all, well, you don't need to worry so much about the background because, of course, you can cut around it if you need to. It might be a little bit more tedious, but it's absolutely possible. And in this case, since we're enlarging the teacup, we're probably going to have to do that anyways. So I'm not worried too much about the teacup. Just as long as I have it in focus, and I wanna make sure that every part of it is in focus. So, I've got the front, the back, the middle of the teacup, and wanna make sure that the majority of it is in good focus. So, my aim right now is to figure out, first, what position do I want this teacup to be in in the final image? And I think that something like this would look really nice. Yep. Clean on the bottom. We're good to go. So I might try that first, and we'll see how it goes. So I'm going to get a nice low angle. And I have a choice to make right now with my angle. I could get up really high and photograph it like this, I could get down super low and photograph it like that. I'm actually going to do anywhere from about three to five different angles on this because it's really hard to determine camera angle and perspective without actually trying many different options with your background. The room, for example, that I'm moving this teacup to, was shot from a fairly low angle, so I wanna make sure that I have many different angles of this teacup so that it definitely fits in that room, because I don't wanna have to re-shoot it. If I don't own an iron, then I definitely don't wanna have to re-shoot this teacup. So, let's get down low and take a couple shots here. Like I said, I'm getting pretty close to the teacup. So I wanna make sure that it's filling my frame pretty well. I'm going to get my focus, and see how that looks. Making sure that most of it is in focus. Right now I'm just zooming in on the teacup through my backscreen, and it looks pretty good. I've got some highlights on the teacup which, maybe I would try to get rid of, but in this instance I think it's going to be okay. And I'm going to shoot. Another thing to consider is the lighting. So if you have lighting coming from straight in, that might fit okay into this room, but you really want to examine the background that you're trying to put your subject, or in this case, your teacup into, and if the lighting matches, good. If not, then you have to re-create that lighting scenario. So if I had lighting coming from an overhead light in this room, looking down, I would definitely wanna mimic that lighting on this teacup. But in this instance, I think we will have some success here with the teacup and this natural, diffused light. So I'm going to get a few different angles on this teacup to make sure that we don't have to re-shoot the teacup. So I've got my first angle from straight on. Just rechecking my focus each time. Then I'll get even lower to the ground. And then a little bit higher. And a little bit higher. Each time looking at my focus. Okay. Maybe with just one more straight on for good luck. Okay. So we've got the teacup, and now I have to photograph the teddy bear in exactly the same way as the teacup. So I'll do it really fast. We've got the teddy bear. I can get rid of the book now, because the teddy bear isn't quite so small. I'm trying to pick a way to set this teddy bear up so that it looks nice and sad, and lonely, and scared. So, I think this is good. Yeah, something a little bit crumpled. And I'll go ahead and get back. And this one, I could shoot from really far away if I wanted to because it's not going to be enlarged in the picture. So my closeness to the teddy bear is not as important here. So I'm gonna get just a little bit further back, and I'm going to get multiple angles while making sure that the majority of this teddy bear is in focus. So this looks good. And I did end up keeping my settings the same way that I had them. So, I did not end up changing anything about my camera settings. They looked really good. Specifically, what I'm looking for when I'm getting these shots is making sure that the depth of field is good, as we talked about, and making sure that the lighting is on the darker side, actually. I tend to underexpose a little bit. So when I'm choosing my settings, I'm thinking, okay, I want there to be nice even exposure, but for me with how I edit my photos, darker is better. I know that a lot of people will say lighter is better. But for what I do, I prefer a little bit darker. So I've got my teddy bear, I've got my teacup, they look pretty good, and now I have to put me in there. So I have to photograph myself. So I'm going to put this camera on my tripod, and I'm going to use my remote. So I've got my 3 Legged Thing tripod here, which is going to be quite nice for getting down really low, since I believe I am going to need a low angle on this shot. Okay. Locking my camera into place. We're really steady. I can adjust that if I need to. I'm on a ball head tripod; so you can see that there. And I'm going to get back. Now, I'm gonna be sitting in this shot. And because I'm going to be sitting down, I need my tripod to be at least level with my sitting position, or lower. So, I'm actually going to lower my tripod here, just by letting the legs loose, and spreading the legs out wide so that I can get any angle that I want. And I'm gonna get quite low to the ground. And this is a little bit tedious because if you're doing a self portrait, it's not always that much fun to have to go in and choose different angles for your camera and things like that. But, we'll do maybe two angles, instead of my normal three to five. And the reason why I'm not gonna do that many is one, for the sake of time, but also because I know that there are perspective shifting tools in Photoshop, and I'm going to rely on them helping me just a little bit to fudge the angle so that it all fits together really, really nicely. Right now, teddy bear is doing a really good job of standing in for me. So I'm going to focus on the teddy bear. Just finding the teddy bear, and focusing. That looks pretty good. And I'm going to just frame this up. And I think we're good to go. This'll just be a test shot, but I always treat every test shot like it's the real thing, so hopefully it'll go well. I'm going to grab my remote. And teddy bear can be moved. Teddy bear needs a better name, I think, than teddy bear. We'll think on that. Maybe Winston. This is Winston, the teddy bear. Okay. I'm going to sit... Well, I was going to sit with my leg straight out, but then my foot's gonna look gigantic in in this picture, and that's not good. So instead, I'll just curl my leg back, and I wanna be sort of dejected in this picture. So, I'm sitting here, I'm really sad. My name is Alice, and everyone has left me in the world, and I'm a terribly sad girl. So, I'm just going to go ahead and assume this position, and we'll see how that looks. I've got my remote. This is a really, really simple, tiny Sony remote to go with my camera. I'm using is on a two second timer. So I'm going to point and click, get rid of my remote, and pose, really fast. Just like that. And now I can try again, just for the sake of I'm in the position, we might as well. Just slightly different. And now I'll get up and check because I don't even know if I'm in the frame. I might need to move my camera back. I don't know yet. That was just a test. Okay. So I'm looking at what I've got, and I like it quite a bit, but I do need move my camera back just a little bit, 'cause I'm cutting the bottom of my dress off. So I'm gonna go ahead and just shimmy this back, and then I need to refocus. So I'm going to get Winston, and Winston's going to sit here for me again. We look exactly the same. So that's perfect. And then I'm going to focus. Okay. Looking good. Okay. All right. The dress doesn't have to be perfect. Not everything has to be perfect. I've got this microphone on that I'm going to edit out later, and that's okay. It's all doable. Just work with what you have. Two seconds. I wanna give myself a little bit more angle, so I might just turn away a little. And we'll try one more. And we'll see how that went. Okay, these are looking really nice. Oh, I definitely like that one. Okay. So we've got something to work with here. The whole dress is in. My hair is on the red backdrop, which is what it should be intersecting with in the final photo here with the background that we're going for, with that red wall. So let's go ahead and get this image in Photoshop and see what we can do to blend it all together.

Class Description

Learn how to source, put together and polish backgrounds for your images by utilizing everyday objects, set design, and compositing. Award-winning and fine art photographer Brooke Shaden, shares her secrets to creating the magic behind her subjects. Not having a big budget or a great location should never stop someone from creating images that look expensive and refined.

You'll Learn:

  1. How to create and use bedsheets as backdrops so that your images have a painterly background.
  2. How to effectively and inexpensively use color theory and prop placement to create a set in your own home.
  3. How to shoot backgrounds for subjects you will composite in later, and top tricks for being able to create smooth composites.


fbuser c20ec902

I would recommend the class to anyone that has an interest in composing and learning how to blend and tone objects and how to place objects in background. I was looking more for creating backgrounds, but this was just as good. Some of Brooke's techniques are interesting to say the least as in a few i would use a different tool, but that is what makes this class different in that there is another way of accomplishing a result using another technique which I'm sure I use. I will watch this a few more times. It was well presented and explained. Thanks Brooke....

Max Safaryan

Great course with useful content and excellent delivery - Brooke is very informative, pragmatic and efficient. Well worth it!

a Creativelive Student

Fabulous content, easy to follow and understand and I loved her tips on shadows!