Formal Assignment #1: Story of Prince George
I have been working on a particular composite for the past couple weeks. A lot of searching for composite inspiration was done before I settled on this idea. I really liked the look of alter-reality composites. The photos on this website I found quite neat: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/food-photo-manipulations/.
My inspiration came from this photo:
Planning and Shooting: Prior to making this composite, I experimented with a human subject composite, putting someone on a basic background. (see older post: https://bonniehchowphotography.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/composites-in-post-production-trial-1/) Through that process I learned some basic color blending with a levels layer by adjusting the RGB channels. I knew I wanted to produce a composite with objects instead of human subjects. Here are the 3 separate photos I shoot.
The was taken near Cameron Street Bridge at sunset. I wanted the light to be focused in the middle of frame for the composite.
This was shot in the studio with split lighting. The light on the right was stronger in order prevent a totally flat image. I tried to imitate backlight as much as possible by minimizing the light coming directly from the front. The shadows on the pages really don’t matter as they would be covered up anyways in the final image. I did not completely blow out the background as gray is easier to select off of in Photoshop. The only thing I had trouble with was getting the angle right; deciding how much of the pages do I wanted shown.
This was a fence was shot under natural lighting. The angle was tricky to get right as well. As the it needed to match the book as if it was resting on it. This angle was later adjusted in Photoshop with the transform tool.
Post-Production: I practiced more advanced actions in Photoshop to create this composite. Although, I am still not completely comfortable with the program, I think I have gotten a little better with managing layers in general. The first thing I did was blend the landscape image into the pages of the book. Layer masking on the book layer turned some of the image transparent in order to have the landscape background show through. The wood background layer was then added in as a smart object. This meant i could edit that layer separately and the program would save it automatically back into my composite psd file. Since each of my photos were shot under different lighting, it added another step in post production to try and blend the colours. I applied a little bit of Lightroom adjustments to each photo prior to bringing it into Photoshop. Next, I warped the river part of the landscape into the shape of the pages. To do this, I cut out the strip were the landscape covered the pages and separated that layer vertically in half creating two new layers. This would lock in the middle to create that seam in the book. Shadows were opened up to bring out the details in the trees directly above the pages. Other basic global adjustments were done in Lightroom after the Photoshop work. Elements like vibrance, clarity, and some contrast were raised. Noise reduction was also added. After all this, I decided to add one more element, a dreamscape effect. (Brighten in Lightroom, bring into photoshop, duplicate layer, Gaussian blur at approx 20, apply multiply blend mode on the layer) It took a couple tries to get the desired effect; shadows were particularly hard to perfect. A lens flare and a highlight was added to blend the book into the background more and to balance out the blue tones. Blending modes used included soft light (highlight) and linear light (lens flare).
The final product: Overall, I really like how this project turned out. The smoothness and reflections of colour captured in the water is my favourite element in this photo. I could have tried shooting the sunset at different exposures and combine them as an HDR to better capture difference between the brights and darks in this scene. Previous to adding the lens flare, I thought this photo has too much of a blue tint. I could have also shot the photos in the same lighting to skip the complications in Photoshop. Creating this image was a great way to get better at using Photoshop, as my typical photo does not make it into Photoshop usually. There were so many layers and actions done in total. It opened my eyes even more to just how powerful Photoshop really is even more than before. Planning before shooting is such an important step to take when creating a composite image.