TTT – Creating composite images – pt 2

Some simple tricks to get us there

In last week’s post about Creating composite images (pt 1), I went over visualization, development of a story, planning the shoot and capturing the images needed to create a composite image.  This post will address some of the post-processing steps to achieve a final result, such as this:

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Searching for Answers

Creating the background image

The first step is to put together the background image from the variety of shots that were taken to to get the entire scene, as shown in the prior post.  Depending on the amount of real estate that is covered in these images, there may have to be a bit of fancy processing to be done in your favorite image editing software; I use Photoshop, but there are many other capable software packages available.

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Master Image
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Image Layers

You see the finished background image here, but it is actually made up of components of a number of shots, as can see in the screen grab of the Image Layers.  The base image is opened to show the 7 different shots that were used to create the background.

Additionally, I did a bit of warping on some components of the base image to get them to stitch together more perfectly, and you can see that I use masks to control what is visible from each image.

Of course, if I had used a wider angle lens than the 85mm f/1.2L, it would have been easier, but then I would have to deal with not getting the benefit of a telephoto, which gives more of a sense of looking into the scene than a wider angle lens would (if it were possible, I would have shot from a larger distance, but I was already in a corner of the library).

In later shoots, I have often been able to get the entire background image in a single shot, trusting the pixel quality of my camera.

After the background or master image is complete, it is time to put our model into the image and have her float ethereally in front of the bookshelves.

The Main Subject

Our wonderful model will now make entrance into the image.

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Steph on the ladder

It is rather straightforward to get Steph into the image while she stands on the ladder.

We simply add the image of Steph on the ladder as a layer and, voila, she is there!

Note how this image also changed the breezy curtains to Steph’s left, as the moved curtain was not in her main image.  It is layered on top of the master image, so we need to make some corrections.

You guessed it!  It’s time for another layer mask, which is your friend in Photoshop.

Masking out the Steps shows each of the components that create the overall look coming together with their individual layer masks.

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Masking out the steps

A quick note on masking and selections in general.  A common mistake that many people make when first starting with masks and selections is that they try to be very precise, which leads to artificially sharp boundaries. When our eyes see those sharp edges, our brain immediately screams: Photoshop!

In order to avoid this, you’ll want to feather your edges by a couple of pixels.  This causes the foreground and background image to blend rather than delineate sharply.  Too much feathering looks fuzzy, but a couple of pixels usually will get the look that you want to achieve.

So let’s take a look at what we have created in the image thus far.

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Steph is floating

Final touches

We’ve got a pretty good image, but there were a couple of details that I wanted to address:

  • The book – it became too translucent, when I reduced the opacity of our ethereal being to give her some translucence.  My fix for this was to put another copy of the book on top, which obscured her right thumb, which I then put on top of the new book.  Part of the reason for taking this extra step is that I wanted to throw some additional light on the book, so that the eye would go there naturally.
  • The floor – it’s just way too bright, which draws the eye to it, for which I used a curves adjustment with a mask.

At that point, I was pretty happy with my first truly composite image.  Over time, I have found flaws in it, which I will edit at some point.  Part of the issue is that I have learned more over the past couple of years, which has made my eye more observant and thus critical of earlier work.  Regardless, I’m still pretty happy with it.

I’m looking forward to hearing from those of you who have taken on similar projects or are thinking about them, and I hope that you enjoyed these posts.

Kryptomorphaics #9 – Transitions

The soul guides us…

 

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Transitions

Image Description

This image, ‘Transitions‘, is one of the more complex of my Kryptomorphaics compositions in that it incorporates both a modicum of zoom blur and a large amount of rotation.

The recognition of this composition came to me during a nighttime photo-walk with a group of fellow photographers.  While many were taking long exposure shots, I was on the prowl for something a little different: looking for what lies hidden under the surface and how I could bring this out.  When I came upon a pair of white columns with a couple of spotlights on them, I knew that I had found my subject.  Looking upon them, I noticed how they framed the traffic turning behind them, which helped me decide on the shot, as I set up my tripod.

What truly inspired me that night, was an event that occurred across the Atlantic Ocean in the Netherlands: the passing of the aunt, to whom I always felt a close connection.  She had been suffering through the ravages of lung cancer, and I knew that my visit with her about a month earlier was the last time that I would see her.  She and I always had a strong bond, and it was no different on this night.  As I felt a strong pull, I captured this photograph in one take, and knew something significant had happened; a message from her sister the next morning confirmed what I had sensed: her transition to another plane of existence.

On this long exposure, I was certainly guided by her spirit, and when I saw the result on a bigger screen that night, I knew that we had created something special.

Technical Details

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mk II and 17-40mm f/4L lens at 100 ISO, f/20 at a 30 second shutter speed.  The camera was rotated along its axis very slowly to get the smearing of the columns and create the window.  A slight bit of zoom blur during this rotation created the depth.

Monday Superfood Fix

Red and green

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Superfoods!

Strawberries and kale are both superfoods, as many of you know.  Both are full of antioxidants, have cancer prevention properties and strawberries have anti-inflammatory benefits.  Plus they are both delicious, so what could be better?

Hope you enjoy them or do you prefer other superfoods?

Technical Details

This is an image that I took a couple of years ago, when I was taking a food photography class.  My goal was to achieve a simple, timeless image that had lines and colors working together.

Lighting for this image was done with a single studio strobe and a reflector to lighten the shadow.  Camera for this shot was a Canon EOS 5D MkII with a 24-105mm f/4L lens; F-stop was set to f/6.3 at 1/100 second.

A Day at the Beach

Frozen desert (not dessert)

As Winter is beginning to reliquish its grip on New England, a look back at a beach visit from last year.

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Desert Oasis

In 2015, the end of January was particularly cold and snow-filled, which made the last day of the month a perfect time to go visit the beach.  There were many wonderful snow images, but this one stood a bit apart for me.

While wandering around the beach, I noticed that there were some areas where the receding water had left some rather interesting formations in the sand.  Striations in the sand combined with the semi-solid salt water from the cold, created this wonderful view from a low angle (I laid down to get this angle).  To my eye, this felt like looking over a sand dune toward the edge of a desert oasis, an interesting juxtaposition to the extreme cold of the day!

Hope you enjoy it as well!

Technical Details

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D MkIII using a 25-105mm f/4L lens at 105mm.  Shutter speed was 1/60 second at f/10 and 250 ISO.

Shot of the Week – vol 8

Bricks with a bit of sky

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Looking up

This week’s shot was taken, as I just stepped out from work for a quick jaunt to Starbucks to feed my addiction.

It was a beautiful day with unseasonably warm temperatures about 60F (16C), which is a regular heat wave in New England in February.  Walking down the uneven sidewalk, my eye caught the reflection of the Sun in the puddle of water.  A little bit of adjustment in position, added some of the tree branch and resulted in what you see here.

The image is not re-cropped, as I shoot mostly square with my iPhone 6S; it’s an aspect ratio that forces my eye to observe things just a little different.

How often do you find yourself capturing serendipitous little scenes?

WPC – State of Mind

How blue is your canoe?

Steate of Mind provides an interesting challenge direction, as our state of mind can vary across a wide spectrum.  But, never worry, as I may have take on this, and, no, it’s not the wondrous Yoga Tree this week…

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Blue Canoe

Our state of mind can go into many directions.  In ths image, we can infer something about the state of mind of the canoe’s owner… is it hopeful for warmer weather or ennui with Winter’s onslaught?

In response to Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge – State of Mind

Saturday Morning Mood

Ever present in the moment

As Saturdays are very much free form, and I will be having a nice Scottish breakfast in a little while, here is a bit of mood lighting…

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The Weather is Perfect!

This scene presented itself to me in late October a couple of years back, while I was taking a short stroll on this farm conservation land.  I was struck by the depth of color, against the sky’s blue and lovely clouds, which lead me to creating this little tableau.

Scenes along these lines are moments of meditation to me, as one cannot help but be amazed by the beauty and balance that surrounds us, as long as we take the time to focus on our breath and be present.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Technical Details

This image is courtesy of my iPhone 5S using the standard camera app and a bit of sharpening within Instagram.