Tag Archives: composite

Make Believe Awards

I wish I was there. How many times have I heard this about the Oscar awards in Hollywood. The Oscar award ceremony is always a popular around the house here. My wife loves to take advantage of the show as her excuse to “dress up” and have some fun with like minded movie folks. What has evolved over the years is that she takes on a costume of something related to the Oscars.  This year she rented a runway dress suitable for the awards and I did fast session against a grey background with the intent of putting her “into the Oscars” or at least in a movie style bake believe setting.

Why grey?  Because while white can look like rim lighting when you composite in your image, I would be working with mixed lighting images and I find that against the lighter dresses, grey works really well to help cut it out. The brightness of a light dress makes it  hard to get a clean edge against the white. And black is too noticeable when you don’t get a nice tight edge.

This image is one of the series I took of Jeanne in the runway dress. I used a single 42 inch octo with a 1600 watt alien bee. I had a V card reflector on the left side.

Jeanne on grey background for oscars

For one background, I used a image I found on Google of the past Oscar awards and chopped a section out of it. I had to do a touch of clean up to remove some feet and so on but I think overall it worked pretty good.
Jason-Sudeikis-stepped-back-take-snap-his-pregnant-fiancée

I then removed Jeanne from the grey background and added to her to my new background at the Oscars. I added a shadow to help add some depth.
Jeanne on Oscar red carpet

I also used a set up image of the Kodak theater and did some cropping and enlarging to get the sizing close.
Jeanne at Kodak theater
None of this compositing was difficult but the tricks like shooting on grey made it a lot easier than it could have gone. Another trick is that I use an average blue layer to blend in the different tones of the two images. That really smooths out the color blending, brightness and such. I also used a slightly different pose with the purse because that better fit the overall “theme” of my base images. If you can get 90% of the image to look right, the brain will fill in the rest without too much difficulty.

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Be Anywhere or Anything You Want with Compositing

The art of compositing opens up a whole new world for photographers and the client. You can be anything or anywhere you want with a bit of preplanning and work. Many people think you have to set up a green screen like Hollywood but in reality, it causes issues with improper lighting. Shooting on a white or black background is much more forgiving and considerably easier to work with. The color selection of the background is really immaterial to a large degree, the still photographer needs the contrast between subject and background to get a clean “cut out”. Proper lighting avoids what is called “spillover” or contamination of the subject with unwanted light and color from the background. I tend to shoot white as much as possible since any spillage looks just like some extra light unlike the day-glow of a green screen.

The image below was shot on a white background with single octobank light. I could have used strip lighting for a more edgy look but this was a “off the cuff” shoot at the end of a family portrait so I used what I had set up.

Olivia on white background

The background was a stock photograph from Depositphotos.com that saved me from having to drive into some sketchy areas on a weekend to get graffiti shots. Note!! Always take element shots when you can and keep them in a library. I take various texture shots and odd bits here and there just for stuff like this.

The Photoshop tool “quick selection” is your friend for this type of work. It’s fast and very easy to get decent results right away. Of course, the more time and effort you put into the selection, the better the results will be. For some work you will find the pen tool to be a better choice but that is a topic for a different day. To get the hair, you can push up the radius up and up. As you go up, Photoshop will go further out from the edge to look for what it thinks to be part of the selected subject based on color.

Olivia Graffiti portrait

You can also use compositing for enhancing images such as I did here for a Christmas card. It was something of a joke for the family since we live in a “non-snow” locality while most of the family lives in snow country. I took a family portrait which I shot against white, a picture of a snow globe, a picture of a local pier at the beach and use a technique for “making snow” in photoshop. This all combined into one image that went on the annual Christmas card. And yes, this is a service I offer and not just for the holidays. Compositing can be the adding of a new board me member, removal of an unwanted person/place or thing and much more.
Final Snow Globe of Sweeneys

You can also use compositing to show off someone or someone’s skill. In this last image, the subject made her costume by hand for Halloween and I composited her into her own movie poster that fit the theme of the costume. To be sure, a composite of this type is not just a “drap and drop” cutout inspite of what some software packages would lead you to think. It takes some time and few tricks to get everything to work together. I hope you can start to see that composting can really open up a world for the more artistic image or a precisely tuned image.
Queen of hearts Composite

Posted in commercial photography, editing, editing software, photography, studio, technique