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Logic Checklist

Lesson 3 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

Logic Checklist

Lesson 3 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

3. Logic Checklist


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction


Why Composite ?


Logic Checklist


What Not To Do When Compositing


Shooting for Composite


Changing Backgrounds and Light


Shoot: Simple Swaps Part 1


Lesson Info

Logic Checklist

this is my logic checklist this is everything that we need to know about image compositing that I think is really really important so we've got angle we've got lens and exposure and all of these different things that you will need to think about when you're doing any kind of composite so we're gonna talk about each one individually but let's talk about them in relation to this picture very quickly we have a before and after image here and this is just me shooting against a blank wall I don't particularly colin trust with this wall was just something that we're going to talk about later sort of ah downside to the way that I shoot sometimes again that laziness thing like I talked about but what I'm paying attention to here is what is my background and what does this image look like of my before picture I have to make sure that that angle matches so we're going to talk about what angle means specifically angle of the camera how it's looking at the subject lens is the lens consistent so le...

t's say that I had used a fourteen millimeter lens on that background and the edges were kind of distorted and stuff well then would it make sense that the books here and and mean in my feet everything we're not distorted that wouldn't make sense so thinking about lens choice is important and I don't think that's so important where like you know maybe you're using a fifty five millimeter in a fifty on another scene that's fine but if you're talking about a drastic change exposure obvious just what is your light like although exposures more about the plus or minus help right how dark is it and then we have white which is more like where's it coming from background what is your background are you taking your background into account is it going to stay there in the end focus this is a really big one for moving people to a different background where is the focal point in the background and you have to make sure that your person fits in that focal point which is something that I've tried to fudge before and it doesn't work so and then height which is how high your camera is not so much the angle or tilt of it but how high it is do you need a tripod and one of the colors like so let's talk about this very specifically now angle is how much your cameras tilted up or down it's just the basic like this is my camera and isn't looking at the person like this is looking down at the person how is that going to work but then you also have to think about a couple of other things like are you going to keep that consistent and how were you going to keep that consistent so let's see there are people who will go to extremes to do this by measuring angles and stuff like that I don't do that I just try to remember was it tilted up or was it not wasn't tilted down or was it not and then that is paired very easily with the height of your tripod so not just in my looking up but am I looking up from below am I looking up from here because I'm shooting something a little bit higher up my looking straight down at the subject of my looking over here down at the subject so those are things that we have to take into consideration for each one okay lens so your lens choice should remain consistent or at least pretty close too consistent as we talked about we're goingto have distortion problems if not and having distortion problems is the worst thing okay it's not the worst thing it's fixable in photo shop but nobody wants to do that I mean just keep it consistent so perspective distortion that's when an image either widens because of the distortion around the edges it'll sort of stretch it or it's when it flattens the image so okay let's say so basically everyone's has distortion doesn't matter what it is it's doing something to your picture I guess there are some lenses that are very close to how we see but let's say you have an eighty five millimeter lens that's going to flatten your background in a way that twenty four isn't and a twenty four is going to stretch the edges in a way that ineighty five isn't so if you've got a picture of ah background where it really compressed and then a picture of somebody taken with a wide angle lens they might not naturally go together and it might not even be the kind of thing that you're thinking oh well that's obviously a lens problem it just might be something in the back of your mind where you're saying these two things just don't fit together why is it and it's very often because of the perspective distortion that you get from a lens so a tighter lens is going to produce less distortion in terms of edges and that's where I'm really concerned in compositing I tend not to composite with anything below a twenty eight millimeter because then I have problems with where is the distortion happening am I keeping everything in the center of my frame or is the thing that I'm compositing on the edge so maybe I've taken a picture with fourteen millimeter lens and there's a bird up in the corner and the bird's wing is like bush like real big because it's being distorted I can't really use that anymore so then I'd have to make sure that everything is in the center so I tend not to use very wide angles when I'm shooting stock images and things like that exposure and this is a pretty simple concept at least for compositing because that's just basically make sure the exposure's relatively the same make sure that it z bright enough on my only problem here is that if something's too dark if maybe shot something and really low light and it was just a drastic situation and you try to pull that up pull those levels up then you might have some grain happening some noise in your image whereas the rest of the picture might not have that grain or noise so when you come into that problem then your your option is you either softened the thing that I was too much noise thus sort of not blurring it but making it too soft for the rest of the picture sort of creating an illustrative look to it or you add noise to the rest of the picture which is something people are very not keen to do most of the time so but it can be fixed during editing most of the time even if it's pretty underexposed it can still be fixed and that's why I'm not going to pay as much attention to exposure same with color I'm not going you worry too much like if this has more of a red hue and this has more of a blue hue that's okay we'll fix it later but for the most part we'll just keep an eye on it focus so this is referring to where your camera is focused in the scene so if I'm about to take a picture of this scene right here and let's say okay so this is going to be my background I love this scene it's the prettiest thing I want to put a person in here somewhere maybe I'mjust undecided yet I don't really know where I want them yet okay so what would I do then in that case I would take many pictures of the scene with many different focal points going back through the image that way I have the option of putting them somewhere something I was just shooting yesterday um it's cold here in seattle would you guys say so I got the water yesterday it was very cold and I was shooting the water and it was kind of choppy and and it was really really stressful and I was trying to get my focal point where I wanted it like the water's moving and it won't focus where I needed to focus so I put my manual focus on and I just moved it slightly and took a picture move it slightly took a picture and I got all these different focal point so that I can composite somebody into that picture and that saved me a lot of time in the end because I was not having a good time trying to auto focus in that water my feet were about to fall off my legs so I tried to fix that okay and this is just what I just said is just you have to drop somebody into the focal point of the image or you have to blur that person usually we don't want to blow a person I mean that's a really unfortunate thing to have to dio so instead of blurring a person we try to find that focal point the worst thing is when you find a picture that you took in two thousand eleven you're like the best backdrop and your persons like that big in the picture because they have to be way in the background where you focused by accident I do this all the time I find these images and I'm like oh it's perfect and I can't see my subject anymore so keeping the focus locked is something we're going to talk about more little bit leader and this comes into play in a lot of different ways sometimes I'll say keep your focus locked for the whole time you're shooting and sometimes I want sometimes it's a relevant sometimes you can keep moving your focal point depending on what we're shooting but let's say for example with this image we have all these flowers and I was shooting on a tripod I had my remote and that's how I was doing this image now if I moved my focal point during this shooting process and I started focusing just on the flowers and things like that then every single thing in this picture would be in focus when in a normal picture not everything is in focus you have something out of focus in the foreground maybe in the background whatever it may be so that's not going to make sense in the end especially when you're compositing things into a blank background so I have the image that we just saw that foggy field where I've composited myself in there if we have an image like that and there is one focal point because it's not likely that every single thing on that field was in focus unless that's how you shoot I don't know I'm usually shooting around two point eight tow about five six or so because of that not everything is going to be in focus so if I take a picture of a book over here and a book over there and a bird over here and everything's in focus I tried to drop them into the scene then all of a sudden this really sharp book is going to be sitting on really blurry grass and that's not gonna work so you can either change your focal point in camera get everything and focus and in blurry photo shop or you can shoot it as you think you need to let's talk about the pros and cons of doing each one background simple question of is your background going to stay the same or is it not so are you going to change the background or you're not going to change the background and do you need to shoot for that so is shooting a contrast ing background is I think the most important thing that one khun do for moving somebody to a new background it allows the hair to stand out which means that we can cut that out what easier I don't worry as much about cutting along skin and stuff like that depending on the lighting situation because that's something that we can later mask if you want to be a little bit patient with it but hair as we all know you can't just wear your mask hair I mean you can't just start erasing around little strands of hair and lost you want to spend a million years and that's going to be your life's work but generally that's untrue so we don't do that and so choose your backdrop wisely when you are moving a subject this goes into the focus issue you know does that background have the right focal point this goes into different things lt's like angle and height and how you shot that background and then how much work are you willing to do to make it work so I just shot an image where I had a field and it wasn't at quite the right height I shot it up here when really I needed to shoot it down here but I really like the scene I thought it was perfect for the image that I was working on so I went into photo shop and I distorted the perspective of it to make it look like the ground was up a little higher senate match with my subjects feet I'll cheat it like that sometimes I try not teo I mean normally I would just get up and go shoot another scene but I didn't have that option at the time so I went ahead and I shot it like that talking about light these are the questions that we need to ask what is the quality of light is it diffused light or is it harsh light or is it some combination of both and for me it's almost always defused I shoot in overcast lighting is just how I like to shoot I shoot with windows makes things really really easy but for those of you who insists on making my life difficult we're going to talk about harsh lighting d'oh so I have been experimenting a little bit with harsh lighting I've been taking some lights out and just continuous lights that those flashes I mean I don't know how people handle that I cannot get it to work at all so I've been using continuous lights and when we talk later today about lighting I'm going to be using rhea lights but not on the flash on the modeling light but I'm also going to be using lamps and just you know things that you would find in your house to light a subject and that's how I feel comfortable personally I like just taking a lightbulb in shining at somebody and saying how that goes we're gonna be talking about that but it's really important to keep in mind for compositing and then where is the white source so where's it coming from what is the direction of white and does that match because when that doesn't match in your image you're gonna have a huge problem and if it's harsh light and it doesn't match I don't know how to fix that I mean aside from flipping things and trying to rotate things and stuff like that and this is actually a perfect example of why I don't have people jumped to do levitation pictures people say to me all the time well can't you just have your person jump in the air and then rotate them but you can't because the light's coming from a certain direction and you need that light to be consistent so very important to think about and then what color is the light are you shooting this at sunset are you shooting this that dawn are you shooting this in the middle of the day or in your your home and how are you going to change that light now I have a pretty easy time changing light and I'm sorry color in photo shot so because of that I am able to sort of not mine to the time of day as much maybe I shoot in the morning it's really blue maybe I shoot in my house it's more yellow that could be fixed what I worry about is if you have the sun hitting somebody space and that's really really orange but then you're trying to put them in a scene where it's like daybreak and it's a blue field well that's not going to make any sense it also paying attention to the color of light can be really important height refers to how tall your camera is is it on the ground is away up here that matters enormously like probably more than anything else in my opinion when it comes to moving somebody to a new background if you don't have the height right than there are things you can do in photoshopped you can go in and change perspective and things like that but man it's a pain in the butt and we don't want to do that we just want to get it right or at least very close taking measurements I'm not gonna lie to you I don't do that but I really wanted to lie to you and say that I did but I don't but it's a really really good idea especially if you need to do something really precise it's something that I started I'm going to start doing I just got a little tape measure that I'm putting in my camera bag because I've had a headache too many times with this I don't have a memory and I don't shoot by me by hand so because I have my camera on a tripod I don't just go up and take pictures at this height all the time you know my pictures aren't all five feet tall but my tripod changes I tend to shoot kind of low sometimes it's up here sometimes it's up there and because it's on a tripod it's easy to measure so I'm going to start taking a tape measure around to measure these things and I'm going to start taking mohr images so remember how I was telling him say this is our scene and I'm going to shoot it at different angles in different focal points I'm also going to shoot it at different heights so I'll start here I'll change my focal point to go back maybe take six pictures like that and then I'll get done here and then do the same and then get down here and do the same and then when you have a stockholder of images you're not going to have a problem you're going to be able to put anybody in that backdrop no matter how they were photographed and that's my goal is to be more organized about that to measure it to really understand how to shoot that background so if you ignore the height of your camera here's what's going to happen you're going to have a floating person even though you did not intend to have a floating person so let's say okay I shot the scene I shot it from oh golly I don't know right here then I go take a photo of my subject and I'm down here and I'm shooting my subject and then I tried to put them on that background and then they're going to be like this floating their feet just don't connect with the ground no matter where you move them or how hard you try that it kind of hurts so instead of doing that then you just need to know the height and you need to do that consistently so then we don't have a floating person or somebody in the ground or something weird happening so that would be bad so trying to get that right very important using a tripod do you need a tripod or do you not need a tripod because who here uses a tripod regularly half of you that is more than I anticipated but I know that a lot of people don't this is what I get all the time I say to somebody use a tripod okay so on the tribe but this is my camera the cameras on the tripod and then all of a sudden I'll see that person come over and pick the whole tripod up and then just start shooting with the whole tripod attached that's not good either so but do you need a tripod I mean is it important and the fact is that if not always important I mean you don't have to exactly measure to the inch exactly where your camera is necessarily but it really helps in terms of like just measuring the the legs you know like how many rungs you pull the tripod up and things like that and just knowing well I usually shoot with two runs pulled out and then you know that that's sort of your go to angle and then you can sort of shoot consistently so that's good using a tripod is going to allow you to take a plate shot but I just call it a blank shot because I don't I don't have time for this technical stuff so a lot of blank shot is just when you move your subject out and you just take a picture of the blank scene this is a great thing to dio in any circumstance I don't care where you are I don't care what kind of thing you're shooting let's say that you just did a session with a bride and groom they're standing in a certain spot and you're kind of shooting from that angle you know when you get those shots maybe you then want to move to a different angle it can be an amazing thing to do if you think you have something distracting in the background that just ask them to move over for a second and take a shop there because if you don't well then you might not have an easy time of compositing someone out of the background but if you d'oh all you're going to do is ask them to move a little bit get them in a new pose and then change your angle a little bit so that's a really great thing to do and I really recommend it and I forget sometimes and it's been ok but only because I have so many stock images of backgrounds that I could potentially use so this is sort of dependent on if you need that blank shot and it's really great because then your cameras stuck there so you won't have the tendency to walk up here and then go back here and then you'll scroll through and be like oh that was the perfect picture but oh my gosh I moved and I don't know where iwas and it's hard to guess exactly where you were so always good for that color now the color's changing in your image like I said that's kind of okay it's okay because if the whole entire image has a certain color temperature we can fix that what's not okay is if the light that's being reflected is a very specific color and it's hitting something in a specific way so let's say that you have a gold reflector do you guys use the gold side of the reflector me neither I don't get it but some people do so eh so if you're using the gold side of the reflector and you're hitting that on the side of somebody's face and they're gonna have gold right here and that might not fit any scene that you want to put them in so be aware of how the whites being reflected in the shot so color temperature shifts are okay but the other thing that I talk about with color is not just are you adding a certain color light but be aware of how people and things reflect light and what color that is so if I take a picture of this scene with that backdrop it's white then that backdrop is going to look more blue but when I add my body in there I am just a reflecting yellow everywhere so it's goingto have an overall color temperature that's a bit shifted so if you're not used to compositing or you haven't had a lot of experience with moving people in and out of shots you're going to notice the color shift it might be very slightly you're going to notice it and so when that happens that is okay that is what we can easily change from one shot to another so these were just some shots where compositing was somewhat use but I want to show how much of an overhaul weakened due to certain images that may be more mainstream maybe wedding shots uh let's see engagement photos stuff like that how important it can be to shoot for the composite and what happens when you don't now in this case I didn't have the option of shooting for the composite I was shooting my friend's wedding unofficially just snapping in a courthouse and in a courthouse you can't say okay now I'm going to set up my tripod and I want you guys to all take down those signs in the background so I could get a blank shot and it'll look beautiful that's not gonna happen so I had to go in and clone that and I had to really really work on that I also had to find other blank walls that I photograph that day to add in later so I could add a piece of blank wall into the background so that at least I wouldn't have to clone every little inch of everything but I did have a blank wall that I photographed for that that spot on the great thing about that was that I was able to keep my height so I was shooting you know just hand held at my height and then I just walked over to another part of the wall where I could shoot that wallet that same height where it was really really neutral in that area so that's how I ended up compositing that in and I just tried to get rid of everything that was too distracting I really regret this definitely should have gotten rid of that's driving me nuts right now but uh I didn't think of it so that's okay and then things like this is this is what I'm talking about when I say the lighting effect I'm not so much here worried about compositing I didn't add anything into the shot I didn't really do anything but I did change where we see the light so that now she could look at her wedding photos and think wow it looks like I was outside instead of it looks like I was in a courthouse which was really not an attractive courthouse I don't know whatever the good challenge you know it's fun to do stuff like that so then we have more extreme compositing where in this case I was photographing my cousin and her fiance and we were in the woods we're kind of like in her backyard just taking some photos and on dh so we ended up with the shots that were good I mean they're fine like I don't I don't shoot like this so I don't know one way or the other if they're good or not but you know they were they were happy enough with them and they're in focus that's the important thing right I mean that's how I judge success with these types of things so we're in the forest and on but I started thinking well I wish that we had more drama and so almost as a joke I did this like I said to george and I'm like look you have a rainbow coming out of your head and I thought it was kind of funny but then she was like no that's actually kind of cool so um so I love being able to shoot images where I can see separation from the background in some way so in this image you can see that there's some light kind of like around the hair and around his head and that created enough separation from the background to be able to cut them out onto a new backdrop so that was great for me because I could then move them and then the only other thing was how doe I blend a sky how do I get rid of that background and what I ended up doing was painting white almost the whole way around them not touching them because I didn't want to cut into her hair or anything on then I dropped that sky in the background it's not a labor intensive process if you know exactly which buttons or you go to buttons and you know they generally do things the same every time so I went ahead and did that and then we have really really simple images like this where I took a picture of my cousin and I was this was now her wedding and so I took a picture of of of her behind the silk cloth and then I thought wow those people over there distracting and this person's heels I really don't like that and so I didn't like it and so I just colored over it I mean I took a brush I chose yellow and I just painted and then I thought that looked nicer so sometimes it's not about you know like cloning these people out which was my initial reaction I said oh I got to get rid of those people and I don't have a shot of this it's grass from that angle and what am I going to do and then I thought oh the brush tools good so that's what I did

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Logic Checklist
Must Have Shots
Favorite Photoshop Tools
Lighting Effects
Practice Files - Cutting out Hair from Background
Practice Files - Building a Dress
Practice Files - Swapping Hand
Practice Files - Levitation
Adorama Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Logan Fox

I'm so thrilled to have come across this course and to have been introduced to Brooke Shaden. As a bit of background I do photography as a hobby, and always had an appetite to composite my work. It's only after watching this course that I can finally put a name to a craft that I love, that being 'fine art photography'. Through my own personal journey I've read various books, followed online tutorials both paid and free. When I came across this course I did hesitate. I wondered 'is it going to teach me anything new'... 'would the standard of the course be up to scratch'. Well, I can honestly say with hand on heart that this is by far is one of the best courses I've come across to date. As a solo photographer myself I've found it difficult at times to be both photographer and subject at the same time. From the outset what became clear was that Brooke is just like me in this respect which made the course so 'relevant' to what I do. Brooke shows throughout the course what can be achieved with a little planning and some creative approaches to situations that can be difficult to pull off when on your own. She is such a joy to watch and listen to, I loved her sense of humor and great how the audience were involved in some of the shoots. All I can say is, if you're in to photography and interested in compositing your work, you should give this a go, you wont regret it!


I'd like to show my gratitude and gratefulness to Ms Shaden and other wonderful people at CreativeLIVE for sharing your vast knowledge without making a fuss. Not everybody has a super computer and a top-notch camera, not everyone has a studio to work in and not everyone needs to know everything as perfectly as some instructors and professionals do. I, for one, have gained so much insight and have been intrigued by Ms Shaden's present and past lessons, she makes the most difficult and surreal subjects unfold so easily and effortlessly. Ms Shaden has made me believe no matter where I be and no matter what i have, as long as i have a good story to tell, and the right vision, I should be able to handle it with a working camera and any version of Photoshop. Unlike many other instructors who kill us every 5 minutes to buy their flashes or gear and support this or that company and agency, Ms Shaden has spent the whole time teaching and teaching and teaching and I am sorry I cannot be there to thank you in person, but you, Ms Shaden, are awesome and nobody can unawesome you :)


I have been a huge fan of Brooke's work since the beginning of the flickr days. I'm so excited to see her in her element on CL. So many years ago i was so very interested in learning and creating and CL makes this possible now. A lot of my work has been inspired by Brooke's dark yet beautiful work style and i am super inspired to create some using her advice. I cannot wait to delve deeper into this world i have been waiting so long to indulge in it and now i will even more so than i have the last 3 years. Thank you Brooke and CL ! =) Sarina Gito Photography (

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