“There is only one sun. We can’t all claim to only have one way to use the light, but we can REDEFINE how we choose to express it. “
Why are you passionate about this topic?
I have always had elaborate visions in my head for images I would like to create, but some of them are unrealistic and would be impossible or too difficult (and expensive) to put together “in real life”. Composite images allow me to create those ideas without requiring an elaborate setup, or putting together an entire team to build a set. I can literally create an image and never have to get out of my pjs or leave my house (which is my idea of a perfect scenario). My imagination runs wild at times and I have always wished that I could somehow let people in to see what I see. Composites allow me to do just that. How else could I make it rain meatballs or show my son napping on a crescent moon?!?!
When did you first learn this technique?
I guess technically, I learned the technique years ago when I needed to replace some heads in a family photo and add in a sunset to a wedding portrait with a gray overcast sky (blech!). That was where I began to understand layer masks and pixel borrowing/replacement. After my daughter was born in 2013, I really started delving into the concept of full composite images and fantasy creations…getting creative with editing and watching every tutorial I could find. I suppose it’s just gradually evolved over the course of my career, but the past year or two was when I truly began focusing on learning how to accomplish creating the images I desired.
What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve this technique?
YouTube is your best friend. You can find TONS of tips and tutorials there that will help you in making your images cohesive. PHLEARN is really awesome.
Pay attention to the lighting in all of your elements. If your subject is lit with an obvious directional light source, you must make sure that every element in your composite is lit with the same type of light…from the same direction. Maybe even add in a light source to your image.
Size matters. Your subject placement plays a major role in how large or small it should be. If you are wanting it to be realistic, use other elements in your image as a reference. For example: If you place a child next to a tree, far back on your plane, you can gauge the size your subject should be based on the size of the tree (or any other element in your image).
Field blur will add even more realism to your images. By blurring pieces of an element (the hind portion of a deer, a spaceship in the distance, a castle on a hill), it will allow your image to appear more polished. Your depth of field should be consistent throughout your piece, otherwise it won’t flow properly to the viewer.
LAYER MASKS! They are essential! These allow you to adjust bits and pieces of each element in your image individually.
Perspective…keep it consistent. Pay attention to the direction from which each element was photographed when choosing which ones to incorporate.
Finalize your image with tonal adjustments, gradient layers, or vignette on the entire image. This will tie everything together and make everything blend together more realistically.
Remember: If you can imagine it, you can create it!
About the photographer:
I am very much an extrovert and I meet no strangers. I love meeting new people, but am very picky about who I choose to surround myself with, and I choose my friends very carefully. I am a giver and I love to be needed. I NEED to be needed. Many people don’t get my sense of humor and it makes for rather awkward gatherings. I laugh at my own jokes..even when no one else does. I am afraid of spiders and I have really crazy dreams…about spiders…big ones…eight foot ones…that wear a diaper…and rap. I like to do impressions and I can cluck like a chicken. I can also do a killer Meatwad. I am borderline OCD, and I (used to) have a ridiculously clean house (before kids) and my husband likes to rearrange things to freak me out. I pee when I get tickled and it’s not funny. Stop laughing! I love making art. I can’t live without making art. I sing all the time, very loudly, and it drives people bonkers and I absolutely LOVE doing it (insert evil laugh)! I love my husband Ryan more than life itself, and my son Jude, and my daughter Ruby are the reason I breathe. I also love Ketchup. I eat Ketchup on my Ketchup. So, now that you know my deepest secrets we can be friends. Just a forewarning, I can be a bit too pleasant at times, and most people can’t handle my optimism. I just thought I should warn you.