Skip to main content

Cloning and Simple Compositing in Photoshop

Lesson 8 from: From Shoot Through Photo Editing: Wedding Portrait Retouch in Lightroom and Photoshop

Pye Jirsa

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

8. Cloning and Simple Compositing in Photoshop

Lesson Info

Cloning and Simple Compositing in Photoshop

Let's go on to Photoshop. All right. Let's do this. So what I'm gonna do first is, let's go ahead and just grab any image. Let's grab one of these guys. Okay. Let's see which one, I'm gonna do this one. I think that's really cute, that expression. 'Kay, I'm gonna press CONTROL + E, or COMMAND + E to take this from Lightroom to Photoshop. Okay, we are now in Photoshop. And tip number one is very, very simple, when you are cloning, and by the way, we use Photoshop for literally one to 2% of our images. 98 to 99 of our images out of 100 are gonna be done in Lightroom. We only do Photoshop when we need to retouch something for the blog, or an album, or something like that, that we actually need to get in there an do, or for composite type work, which we're gonna demonstrate in just a second. But simple composites, quick composites, that's what we do. So, with cloning. I'm gonna go to a spot healing brush. You can go to healing or spot healing, either way. Okay? So what I'm gonna show you i...

s, we use random brush shapes, and all you gotta do is, this is how the brush normally comes, like this, all I do is tilt the angle a little bit, and then make it more of an oval shape, and that automatically gives you a little bit better of a clone because now the shape isn't so circular, right? A circular shape, when you clone things in, it's gonna draw attention. This is a little bit more randomized, so the shape fits into the image a little bit better. So we would clone the exact same way as everybody, which is just create a new layer. And we always make sure that we're not working on the background itself. Once we get into Photoshop we're destructive editing. So all I would do is, I would target certain things that I feel like might be a little bit distracting. Generally, we're not gonna really modify anything that's a facial feature, right? If it's a part of their face we're not gonna change it. If it's a temporary part of their face, like a blemish, a zit, something like that, that's what we'll fix. What you're gonna do is make sure this little button right here, sample all layers, is turned on. This is really far away from me, hold on. 'Kay. And you're just gonna bring this guy in. You use your left and right brackets to control the size of it, and just remove whatever it is that you need to remove, that looks, you know, a little bit off. So this little thing, underneath the hair right there, is a little bit, like if I was to actually blow this up, I'd fix it. This is like so tiny that you don't really need to worry about this stuff. But what I typically recommend, if you press CONTROL + 0, it'll zoom you out to the full fit view, right? Press F to go full screen, and then CONTROL + or COMMAND + 0 to go out to this 100% view. What I usually recommend when you're retouching, especially for wedding stuff, is zoom on your screen to about the size that it would be when it's blown up. So, at the studio we'll actually put a ruler, like a little measurement, just on the screen so you can actually see like, "Oh, this is an 8X10." Okay, so you put a little measurement there, you blow it up, and you go, "Okay, that's eight inches." And now retouch. Does that makes sense? Because what happens is, people go like this, and you're like fixing every single thing, okay? And you go through the entire image, and that was a really terrible clone job, but you go through the entire image doing that, and what's happening is you're over retouching because you basically, if this image were actually blown up at this size, that would be like what? 100 inches on a canvas, or whatever it is. So you're doing too much work. Okay, so press CONTROL + 0 to zoom out, COMMAND + 0, press Z, drag until it matches that ruler. So just put a little measure up on the screen so you can make sure that you're not over retouching. Okay. Now one thing that we will do quite a bit when it's a shot like this, there's a lot of things that we try and fix, in like poses, but if we have a beautiful expression like this, this is a little trick here, I'm gonna merge everything to a new layer, it's not a little trick, it's just I'm gonna show you how we would do like a little bit of liquefying. I'm gonna press ALT + CONTROL, SHIFT + E, or OPTION + COMMAND + SHIFT + E. What that does is, it'll merge everything that you've created so far to a new layer. 'Kay? Go right up to your filter menu and select liquefy. And this is like a girls best friend. Select your little pushing button right there, your little hand tool. And all we're gonna do is, I'm gonna not push down on my pad, 'kay, I like to use the mouse for stuff like this, but this is where we would just make a small push adjustment to kind of roll the shoulder back a little bit and to kind of bring the arm in a little bit, okay? So, that's something that we might do if a bride tell us she's a little be conscience of her arms. I mean, step number one is to make sure that her arms aren't squozen like this, like they're very tight, is to open up the arm a little bit and that's gonna make it smaller. Step number two is in post when we have a shot like this that looks amazing, and we want her just to love it, we will do a tiny bit of liquefy. Make sure that when you do that you look at the other side. So like when you're making this adjustment we wanna make sure that it's basically gonna stay proportional and we're not gonna be like bending her arm or her wrists. So we just kinda shrink it down and straighten out these things. And we always do these things on a very, very, kind of, tame level. Like, we're not gonna go and just like push her arm and make her have like those kind of, super model, skinny 90 pound arms. It doesn't look good, and I feel like people are beautiful the way they are. If they feel like this is something they're self conscience about we'll tweak it a little bit and let it go right there. Okay. I'm gonna cancel out of this. I'm gonna press CONTROL + W or COMMAND + W just so we can close out. And let's go on to our next Photoshop tip. So, tip number 10, Simple Compositing. You guys can do simple compositing. Put the camera up on a tripod, take a shot, add your light in there, remove the light for another shot, and then we can simply composite it out. It's a super easy process. I'm gonna show you guys how to do it right now. You can do it to remove a light. You can do it for creative purposes. So in this scene I took an image with a couple in it because I know the couple can't hold still for 30 seconds. So I put the couple in it, shot it at a quick speed. Again, we're on a tripod. I put the ND filter on, we slowed it down to 30 seconds with an ND filter, during the day, so we get that beautiful wispy look, that foggy look in the ocean. And then I added a mist spray. If you guys saw in Incredible Games, we teach how to do that, a lot, in that class. We add a mist spray to get this nice flare, and we combine all three. So I wanna show you guys how to do that, right now. This is another one of our faux-shop magic pieces. 'Kay, let's go over here. Watch this. HDR natural color, this is a preset that dials in, like basically an HDR preset, so if you look at that recipe we're pulling down the highlights, we're bringing up shadows and pulling down whites. We're adding a lot of contrast 'cause that process does kill a lot of the contrast. So what I'm gonna do now is just dial in a good white balance so it's not so nuclear. I'm gonna pull down the exposure a little bit. And you know what, for this one, this is a little bit like, I kinda don't like my images that candied, so let's just do like a, maybe they're a black crusher or signature color. Let's do signature color. We'll keep it there. Okay, so, again, jot down this recipe. All this does is it pulls the highlights and the whites down so we can retain color, right? We're adding shadows. We're reducing blacks a little bit to get our contrast. We're adding a little bit over our contrast. We're gonna go ahead and brighten up. What I'm gonna do is, to tweak, I'm gonna reduce a little bit of vibrance and add a little more warmth to the image. If I wanna make any other adjustments I can, but let's call that good, right there, okay? So it looks okay. Now, I'm gonna select all three of these images. They're shot with the exact same setting, or the exact same exposure. At least close to it, okay? So we try to approximate the brightness to make sure that they're close. We're gonna press CONTROL + SHIFT + S or COMMAND + SHIFT + S to bring up our synchronized settings. I haven't done anything locally that I need to worry about. Plus this was on a tripod. So I'm just click check all, synchronize. So color tones are going to, for the most part, match. Now all we're gonna do is, with these three images, I'm gonna go into the develop module, and I'm gonna look from image-to-image to see if there's any shift in color and temperature, okay? So what I'm noticing is that, let's see, this shot could be a tiny bit more warm. Exposure wise it's pretty dang accurate. This one's pretty good too. Might drop it by one little click, 'kay? So I'm just evening everything out, that's it. Once I'm done evening out and everything has been applied to it I'm gonna select all three images, by holding SHIFT and left clicking, right click, go edit in, open as layers in Photoshop. Again, I don't think these ones, these might be shrunken down. I try to keep the file size small so when you guys download they don't take forever. These ones are the actual CR2s. Now you'll notice that this shot right here, that is shown on the screen, that's actually my safety shot. In case I decide that I don't like the spray effect, I have a shot without it. You know what I mean? So I take a safety shot then I'll add the spray, so that way it's not just a spray effect. But I think for this image I'll probably use just the spray. So now they're loaded up into layers on the right side. So Photoshop did all the work. Lightroom did all the work. Transferred everything into one single file. All I do is select all three images. This is a magic button right here, go to edit, auto align layers, press auto, click okay. Even when you're on a tripod there's a tiny bit of movement and shift generally. Unless you're using like a shutter release, and really being super careful. What you'll notice is though it does a little bit of a shifting. A shift along the edge just to make sure that everything now is lined up, okay? So now everything is aligned. Our top layer is that layer of the couple. And what I wanna do is actually do this. This is simple compositing in its glory, okay? Press ALT or OPTION, and click the mask tool. That adds a black mask. So if you've just pressed the mask button it's gonna add a white mask. If you hold down ALT or OPTION it adds the opposite. Okay. Press B to bring up your brush. Shrink that brush down. We're gonna paint white in just to reveal the couple. Done. Cool? That's all it takes. If you shoot it well and you make sure everything is kind of done in terms of, like the color grading and everything, the color grading matches, it's literally 30 seconds inside of Photoshop. You can knock out a light stand, you can place the couple back in the scene if you had to slow down the shutter, you can do whatever you need. Now I would zoom in and just make sure that you kinda refine. Sometimes you can have a little bit of an edge around them. So just kind of zoom in, make sure it's cleaned up, you know, if you need too, and do that. But this already looks pretty dang good. 'Kay? We would save this out. Hit CONTROL + W, go back to the Lightroom, and this is where we would actually do any additional processing. So sometimes we'll actually go and we'll say, "Okay now I want this as a 16X9." I'm gonna change the crop. I wanna add in my radial to kind of pull in a burn. We basically reprocess this so it's refried beans. You guys will know that well if you watch more of my classes. I say it a lot, 'kay? So you can do whatever tweaks additionally over that. Oh, sky, cloud, ocean let me show you guys this. (humming) 'Kay I'm gonna increase the size of the brush. Wow. All you do is subtract it off them. 'Kay? Take a look at the before. Cool? Pretty nifty. All right. 'Kay, what do we got next? Okay, so let's go back to the slides. So this previous one is the exact same technique, we just knock out the light. So now we end up with that final lit image without our person in it, right? So this is the steps. With all these different techniques I include the steps guys just so you can have something to look back at. So shoot the image on a tripod. Lightroom to raw process the master image. Select and sync them. Right click, edit in, open as layers in PS. And then from Photoshop you're gonna select all layers, auto align, and then just simply mask as desired. 'Kay, if you've done everything correctly up to that point then they should blend nicely. If you haven't then you might need some adjustment layers just to blend in, contrast, and color. But it's a little bit beyond, kind of, what we're gonna do here.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Exercise Files, Lightroom Presets, & Photoshop Actions

Ratings and Reviews

Pamela Richardson

I would absolutely recommend this class. I watched this class by chance on the rebroadcast, since I am not a wedding photographer. However, I learned so much that I was amazed. I do take many many photographs of friends, family, and at events, although my professional speciality is landscape. I will be able to improve my photographs of people substantially thanks to Pye's course, because I learned so much about how to pose subjects, how to work with a variety of backgrounds, lighting, and then the photo editing. I can apply the photo editing to all of my photographs, not just portraits. I really liked Pye's comprehensive explanations of each step that he was demonstrating, for both the portrait session and the photo editing. I really appreciated Pye's clear demonstrations of how images of people can be improved, and am eager to apply his examples to my own work. I appreciated Pye's absolutely outstanding presentation skills, as he had slide show already prepared, with the list of tips and associated mini tips for every step of the process. I learned so much about equipment (such as lighting and flashes), additional software, printing and publishing services, and more. Pye's presentation pace allowed me to make notes and absorb what he was saying. My friends and family will also appreciate my increased skills at retouching photos of them!!!


loved this class! lots of good info and it was great to see a small version of his normal shooting process. He presents it in a very fun and entertaining way making it not just educational but also enjoyable to watch!


A+ Fantastic course. Quick work flow is a real weakness of mine. Pye did a terrific job. I must admit, sometimes I fail to appreciate the top caliber of talent CreativeLive gets. There are a log of great Instagram photographers that don't make money. CreativeLive gets top tiered working photographers, which is key. I know I'll need to re-watch so I can implement what Pye taught.

Student Work