TTT – Creating composite images – pt 1

Revealing the magic…

In this past Sunday’s Shot of the Week blog post, I floated the idea of putting together a post or two on the technical elements that go into creating an image along the lines of ‘Searching for Answers‘.

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Searching for Answers

Visualization

The first step in the process should focus on visualizing the image that you are trying to create.

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The Library

When I walked into this mansion’s classically adorned library, it was rather brightly lit through the magnificent windows off to the left in this image.  After taking a look around there were a couple of items that stood out to me about this scene:

  • Red curtains
  • Old books
  • Classic woodwork

This gave me a couple of mental and visual cues to start the process of putting together a storyline for the image.

A Story for the Image

As this type of image is all about telling a story, it is critical to start with the story.  Having a library full of books, the first thing that came to my mind was that the books might contain answers to questions that may have troubled someone in their life.  What if they never had access to these books during their lifetime?  Could they come to visit the library as an ethereal presence, so that they could search for answers to those questions?

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A Base Image

As you can tell, the imagination quickly adds some details to put context together for the shoot.  A quick check of the available wardrobe confirmed that we had a flowing red dress available, so that the color red could be used as a thematic cue.

Planning the Shoot

When creating a composite image, the most important thing is to have a plan.  Ideally, you shoot all the components for the image at the same time, so that lighting is consistent, which will make the final image much more believable.

At the very least, create a mental checklist that ensures all the bases are covered to put the final image together in post processing, particularly when shooting a square composition.  Here are some things to keep in mind:

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Positioning
  • Make sure that you shoot extra width and height for the image; other than the obvious reason, you may decide later to adjust the exact positioning of your subject
  • Make sure that you have a complete base image for the entire scene (you can see the central portion of the base image above)
  • Give yourself options by playing with some of the elements in the shot, such as the curtains or books, even when you’re not sure you will need them; you might end up throwing some shots away, or end up using one of them in a way you just didn’t expect.

Equipment Notes

Although there are many ways that good shots can be achieved, here are a couple of equipment notes that will make the process a little easier:

  • Always have your camera on a tripod; if you have a tripod that allows for smooth rotation that is ideal for aligning for additional width to your shot.
  • A fixed focal length, prime lens is ideal, but a zoom lens is workable.
  • A remote trigger for your camera makes your shoot a lot easier (see ‘Positioning’ image)
  • Use manual settings on your camera, including manual focus.

Shooting the Key Element(s)

The most important element of this image is the ethereal presence floating in front of the bookshelves, in search of answers in the many volumes stored there.  The next image gives away some of the magic, as you see the model, Steph, standing on a ladder rather than being suspended through unseen forces of levitation.

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Ethereal Presence

Keen observers will also note that that is my thumb holding her dress in a more floating position.  Even keener observers might see that her head position doesn’t match that of the image at the beginning of this post; you are correct, as I used her upper body from one of the other images.

Next week, we’ll go over the details and the process of editing in your favorite image manipulation program, which is not quite as difficult, as you might think.  I’ll leave you with some of the other shots that went into creating the resultant image, as a bit of a behind the scenes view.

I hope you enjoyed this brief introduction.

WPC – Seasons (Autumn)

Autumnal beauty peeks through

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Steeped in Color

Autumn is the season of beauty in New England, as color abounds across the landscape and cool days provide a reprieve from the Summer heat.  Skies bring restorative rains, as the final bit of growth occurs in the fields that are readying for harvest time.

The Yoga Tree is not one for garish displays, as she prefers the subtle muted tones that she is beginning to display here.  Over the following weeks, she will shed her remaining leaves and retreat into the inner strength that servers her well for the upcoming season of Winter.

Hope you enjoy this final image in the set of seasons.

In response to Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge – Seasons

WPC – Seasons (Summer)

Protectress of the Fields

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Stately in Summer

During the hot days of Summer, this proud Lady of the Fields stands coolly among the verdant landscape that surrounds her.  The fields are full of vibrant energy, as the corn is beginning to come up, and the trees in the distance are full of green life.

The Yoga Tree may disguise her form during these months, as she uses the abundance of the Sun’s energy to replenish her stores for the upcoming seasons, but her spirit radiates from every fiber of her being.  She stands as a proud protectress of the fields, where the farmers toil to produce the season’s crop.

Hope you enjoy… tomorrow, we go toward Autumn!

In response to Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge – Seasons

Shot of the Week – vol 7

Books have the answers

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Searching for Answers

As the best shot of this week was Doane’s Falls featured frozen in the Winter in New England post, I thought that it might be interesting to take something from the archives.

Today’s image is ‘Searching for Answers’, which was created in 2014 during a workshop held by Brooke Shaden in Yonkers, NY.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, taking a workshop with Brooke is truly inspirational and truly energizing!  Please check out Brooke’s blog Promoting Passion, where she shares a lot of detail about her process and approach to creating her stunning images.

About The Image

We were shooting in a wonderful, old mansion that is undergoing a slow, thoughtful renovation.  When I walked into the library and saw the curtains and beautiful woodwork, I immediately had the idea of an ethereal being coming from the past to look for understanding of what happened during her life, which is the source for the title.

As luck would have it, we did have access to a wonderful red dress that looked great on Steph, the model in this shot.  Next steps were to make her float in the right location in front of the bookshelves and to ensure that the rest of the room played along just right.

The planning made the post-processing a breeze; only about 4 hours’ work to get that done.

Hope you like this image, and, if there’s interest, I would be happy to do a post that talks in more detail about the entire process.

WPC – Seasons (Spring)

The Seasons move forward

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Renewal

Spring is the season of renewal, when Nature returns to her full glory from the long sleep that is Winter.

The Yoga Tree shows the beginnings of a season of growth and rebirth, readying to put on her best Summer dress.  The field around her is also showing the first signs of growth, as the grasses are recovering and soon the corn field will be planted.

She stretches out beautifully, while she prepares for the next dance, a round to Le Quatro Stagioni, as she cycles through the years with unending grace.

Hope you enjoy… tomorrow, we go toward Summer!

In response to Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge – Seasons

WPC – Seasons (Winter)

Winter brings beauty

When I saw this week’s photo challenge, my decision was easy!  Four different views of the one constant in my photography: Yoga Tree!

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Winter’s Beauty

In Winter, she truly shows her inner beauty, stretching to the sky in a majestic pose.  She stands strong against against the elements, radiating the energy that she contains, awaiting the command to regenerate for Spring.

In response to Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge – Seasons