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Shoot: Simple Swaps Part 1

Lesson 7 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

Shoot: Simple Swaps Part 1

Lesson 7 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

7. Shoot: Simple Swaps Part 1


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

Shoot: Simple Swaps Part 1

we're going to know jump into shooting and this is all about simple swamps so this is all about how to change a hand how to change a blinking eye howto get somebody out of the background that's being really annoying which will be one of you guys so we'll see who wants to be really annoying in the background and uh you know rushes like I want to do it s so you think it's me so we're going to do that right now and we have a bride and groom over here would you guys like to join us hi thank you guys okay what are your names again heather heather hans that's just perfect oh my god is great so I thought it was really funny that we have this wedding dress which I actually shot in my first class ever here so I thought that was really cute okay so I'm going to grab my camera and I'm just going to start to get set up here for taking some portrait some wedding portrait ce which as you know on the master at I'm just kidding I'm not a master at that I don't know how to do that at all so uh we're go...

ing to work on it though now when I shoot weddings night tendency which I've shot three my tendency is to say hey stop it sit there do what I say because they're all my friends and that's okay but I don't actually know you guys so I'm gonna pretend like you're not my friends but I really like you so just okay now what we're gonna do is I'm going to take some shots here and what I want to focus on her a couple of different things first thing is going through my checklist this is we're really fancy over here and we made some cardboard cut how it's so one second while I go through them now these are the things that I would normally have folded up on a piece of paper in my bags things that I just need to remind myself of every once in a while all right little notes on my hand or I'm shooting somebody that I'm not used to shooting and it's not necessarily wedding stuff because I'm going to use a wedding example here but I don't shoot weddings naturally so it might be a commissioned portrait of somebody where I get really nervous to shoot other people I mean I do self portrait's partly because I you know I don't talk back to myself so that's a really nice thing and I want to explain anything to myself but when I do have to do that I get really nervous and so I write little notes down for myself in little hidden places when I can take a look some of those notes would include things like what we have here focus angle background stuff like that the other notes would be things like don't forget to photograph pretty hands and stuff like that that I will forget and I was shooting somebody earlier this year where we were shooting something she had to balance on something and her hands were like this whole time and it was only because I noticed that thankfully at the end because I don't notice things when I'm shooting I tend to just get really frantic so I noticed at the end when I was flipping through that her hands were like this and then I said do you mind going back over to that spot and sitting down again and just posing your hands one more time so that's what we're going to be doing here is focusing on what if the pose is bad how do we change that when you still realize that you can so not once you've gotten the photo shop how do we manipulate her hand or anything but I'm sure you're very good poser I'm sure but we're going to make you a very bad post today so that's the kind of thing that I want to do so I would go back to that spot where my my subject was balancing and put her generally in the same position and then put myself generally in the same position get my focus and then instead of having her balance I would say just hold on with one hand and let this hand rest then holding with this hand let this hand rest you know and just take different shots of the body there are a lot of things that go into that it's not just like a sit down do that again it's like I have to match my angle I have to match my focus I have to match the height eight of my camera I have to match all of those things and if I don't then there's no point in doing it and that would be the worst thing if you make somebody reshoot something and then you still can't put it together so let's hope that doesn't happen okay so we have focus which we're going to be playing with these later I didn't just have him to be ableto through this but focus is something that we're going to pay a lot of attention teo and focus depends on a couple of things now I'm using a zeiss lens here so it's manual focus I am trying to teach myself manual focus well that'd be a really good idea while we're live so I'm gonna do that and I don't really know how to manually focus camera very well but we're trying so I would do that and after I got my focus then I either need to stay put or I need to decide am I going to move around and this is the trouble with moving is that if I start moving my body all around and I'm not really sure of which images I'm going to use as the final images then it's really hard to know exactly where I was in relation to them when I'm reshooting that so what I want to do is if I get my camera over here and I'm just going toe I don't know what my settings are right now they're set for whatever the water was like last night when I jumped in there I'm going to take my eyes so down I'm just gonna take a really quick test shots of them oh thank you look they're already posing wonderful okay so that was a little bit too dark but I'll fix that and so I'm taking a first shot just to see what kind of angle do I want to get what are my shots going to look like for this portrait and then things like light like do I need to change the light that we're working with right now do I need to change the background things like that so I've got my two subjects here and this is what I'm going teo note as a problem with what's happening right now and this is specifically for compositing now if I have them posing why don't you put your hand on his chest you're quick yeah you have this one come up right there good the problem with this is that if I have them posing like this then that means that there's going to be more shadow on her hand and on her face than on her back which we could argue it is this sort of general lighting issues but the bigger problem is can we actually get these lights turned off thank you so when these lights turn off you'll see even more that the problem is that there's going to be so much shadow here that it can be really difficult to edit in shadow so it's so much nicer to just have nice even light happening with the hand if I know that that might be a problem spot not to mention the bride usually gets the better light so what have you guys switch places beautiful and do the same thing good and now I'm gonna have both of you turn just slightly it perfect so what I have here now it's perfectly even light on her hand so take a shot of this so we can see what it looks like I'm not being fancy here I'm just okay so we have light on the hand and it's really nice and even we don't have shadow going on so that's great so what's what I'm looking for here is that because the light is even it doesn't really matter what she does with that hand she can like do this do that do this whatever and still going to be even light so if I try to change her hand position then the shadows aren't going to be really different or anything we're not going to worry about that so why don't you go and just change your hand position up there we go yeah that's great just oh perfect hang on there okay so I'll take a shot of what this looks like okay good so now we have these two images and can we pull both of them up to compare on the screen and once we do that we'll see that once we have the general angle that general pose all of that then it becomes just a matter of looking at this little hot spot here so well you're you're very good opposing which is very unfortunate because I was hoping your hand would look a lot worse there so let's just take a bad shot ok so go ahead and spread your handout on his chest yeah like that yeah like your your fears warrior and you're you just got married so you're pretty excited about that and okay all right so what's compared those do that the bad hand and this one of the nicer hands uh yes good okay so now what you notice is that I didn't ask hans to do it hans right okay you know what cons to do anything he's just standing there perfect because that's typically when I photograph a bride and groom that's typically what they do they just stand there and wait until somebody tells them to do something else so he's standing there which is great and why is that good because we're going to swap this handout so if we're going to swap this hand out there are two different things that I want to d'oh okay I'm looking at this hand I'm like man she's fierce and I don't think I want that in this picture so maybe are like that one better and I'm going to use that hand well I couldn't do that because he's like a blank blank canvas here he's not changing position he's just essentially the background of this picture that we need to keep consistent so with any sort of simple swap our composite of any kind you want the background to be the same because if the backgrounds the same then you can edit anything on so you could let's see if we have like a field in the background or something and let's see having kids running around in the ruining your shot and you just want them to get out of there then if you wait and you take a shot of just that blank space then that's all you need to composite things in and out of that picture but if you have kids and every single shot and you never have a clean shot to edit something into then you might take let's say you want like this person she's jumping over here and you want her but she's got a kid coming out of her head because the kids jumping in the background then how are you going to get rid of that kid you need the blank shot you need some sort of blank space to add it behind her if you never get that then what you gonna do so that's what we have here hans is our blank space he is our blank shot that's not going to move so from now on stay exactly where you are just a sze yu have been your perfect okay so let's see if he's in that spot and I have these hands then what's the problem here what shot are we missing we're missing the blank shot and it's not always necessary now if you're shooting bridal portrait so our wedding photo then you might not have the luxury of saying okay you guys hold this pose for the next ten minutes as I shoot every possibility of what hand I want to use you know you're you're in the middle of a wedding you're not thinking about that you're thinking all we have to get the right expression they have to look really nice and all that but if you have a moment even just when you're going through the back of your camera really quick and you're like and I didn't get a good hand there and it looks really awkward the whole time that's when I would try to read create this shot I would go back to them and I would say okay getting this position will show them the picture I'll say this will only take a minute here's what we're going to do and so then I would go in here and I would say heather right was a heather just drop your arm thank you and I'm just gonna take the shot like that so now when I back up here there I've got this blank shot and so let's compare then the bad hand with that sort of last shot that I took that blank shot and when we do that you can see nothing's really changing the white isn't changing cause it's consistent their angle to the light isn't changing that's consistent so that's great so now I have this hole blank area here and if I have a blank area I can go ahead and put that right on top of that hand I don't know what that was spit everywhere s right on top of that hand so suddenly that's all covered up and now I have that extra shot of a hand just added on really gently and that makes it really really nice and smooth for the transition there's nothing to it then it's just a matter of how do we get that other hand in there so those for three shots that I'm looking for when I'm doing any sort of portrait psas are all the details perfect is every single thing about these people perfect and if it's not then how am I going to fix it and very often that's by making it perfect and then taking a blank shot of that space so the blank shot is our subject the model that bride is posing terribly and then we fix that and so I have those three things and so let's see now how are we going to do this in a more complicated way so what if the lighting is bad quick before we go on to the more complicated can we back up just a little bit we did have some questions about some mildly technical things first of all we'll corin marie and one of the person we're wondering what kind of camera you use I know for sure if I want to so I have a cannon five d mark too and I am using a zeiss fifty millimeter lens here something that I'm trying out the auto focus thing I'm getting better though somebody in new york just taught me how to do the y view focus thing saved my life so anyways that's irrelevant I'm using a zeiss fifty millimeter and that's what I'll probably keep on fairly consistently until we start playing with someone's choices and stuff like that let's say I have a three legged thing tripod which will probably pull out at some point here in my settings on that one one hundredth of a second and that's because I know that I intend to shake a little bit probably once a week I don't know if you guys aren't used to you holding cameras I'm always like on can't do it so I try to keep it above one one hundredth of a second I'm at f three point five that's very typical for me about three point five I tend to go from two point eight to five point six but in the three ranges usually where matt in that s a one hundred I mean eight hundred I'm sorry and the reason why I'm at s o eight hundred is because that's kind of like my top point where if I'm doing portrait's where I need them to be pristine I won't really go above that too often but we don't have a lot of light coming in we have window light it's really beautiful light on our subjects but you know I'm not too worried about pushing it but I don't wantto don't have too much grain in there so just sticking with the window way great another one from allie girl five o one and then five other people also want to know the answer this question do you always shoot rah or do you ever composite with j pigs hi composite with j pegs if I absolutely have to I shoot raw for everything pretty much the only time that I don't is when I forget too like if I've turned my camera to j peg and then just forget that I did that but otherwise I'm always shooting and raw let's see I don't know I've rarely composite with a j peg and the reason is because I I want to have the most quality as I possibly can and I don't really see a reason to ever switch it but I'm also a little bit unique in that way in that I don't take a lot of pictures ever so shooting a wedding I might be inclined to turn it over to j pegs I have more space on my card then I can shoot a lot longer but the card so that might be a reason and honestly I don't really care that much either way I mean I don't make that drastic of a change to anything in camera raw so uh but generally wrong on then one from v ryan and two other people also want to know do you mostly shoot in auto white balance your white balance I also would love to hear focusing and meet oring just kind of cover all the bases and that we could keep you on yeah if I know what focusing and metering means we'll try to talk about that yeah so I keep my color balance on ana just auto so I'm always shooting auto and less I am shooting with a very warm white which I sometimes do in my house if I have a lamp that I'm going to use to help light something then I might adjust for that but typically I keep it on auto and that's good for me because I'm using window light are overcast lighting which is very white to begin with so there's nothing I really need to change the I might consider changing it in camera if I am compositing multiple objects together from different spaces and the color temperature is really off and in that case I always use calvin I don't go to the auto settings because I don't really get it like when it says cloudy what does that mean like do I shoot it when it's a cloudy day or a doing direction to make things look cloudy so so I just I used kelvin because I get that and so that's typically what I d'oh now in terms of focus I usually use auto focus currently I am using manual focus andi I typically focus just with you know the ring I'm not usually using back focus or anything like that but that's an awesome option to dio is that all the technical things that that there are I just want to get some lights on that kind of look and I'd say let's keep going ok awesome all right so now we're going to make this slightly more complicated by complicating the white okay so let's go ahead and have you guys just turn away from the light all right over here that's great okay now this is a little bit more complicated because now if I shoot from right here than our bride is going to be the blank shot because if I'm shooting here in her arm why don't you put your hand up here on his chest now she is the blank shot so now I have to shoot her without an arm there to be able to composite a different arman so I'm going to go ahead and take that shot and the other problem are the shadows now there aren't many shadows in here it's not like we have this really big issue like harsh light in a shadow crossing her arm and stuff like that but it can get a little bit confusing when you're in a really dark area of a picture and compositing so I'm just gonna go out and frame this up see how it looks I would never actually shoot this but there we go super dark based on our settings before so dark that it wouldn't even make sense to composite in that dark space because we can't even see what's happening so I either need to brighten her up or fix the light or shoot it the right way because that's what we're going to try to dio so I'm going to have you guys turned back toward me and instead of it being the hand of this time let's dio you can keep it up there it looks really pretty there but now I want to talk about something that is a lot more difficult to fix than a hand which we have the hand so good we've got that blank shot okay but what about the hair so if we're going to change the hair up let's say that her hair is like this it's right in front of her neck and we decide kosh I really would love a picture of her hair moving a little bit in this picture for some drama but here's what happened it won't happen with you I feel certain but here's what happens when you ask somebody to move their hair or like focus on something that's not their faces that they're like like that make this face like I'm scared to move my hair or I'm concentrating a lot on moving my hair and then the face goes crazy that kind of thing so if you are shooting a bride and groom and you're at a wedding it's just you guys you're the photographer there they are over there and it's just you this is when I would recommend having the bride help you out if she can and this could be moving the veil moving the dress a little bit moving the hair it could be any of these things but the problem with the hair is that if you can't get a good face with her moving her hair like that then you can't have the hair like this in the shot that worked the reason being you can't have hair falling here and then also going like that in the picture because it doesn't make sense so having things make sense is so important and so I want to make sure that I get a clean shot like this where there's nothing covering her neck I'm gonna step back and take another portrait here I can't tell if he's aeryn focus so uh we'll see and I've got that shot so now what I want to do is explain to them what's happening so if they are to unsuspecting people they have no idea who they've just hired for their wedding photography then I will walk over to them and plain but I want your hair to be moving in this pictures and there's some drama and motion so what I want you to dio is I want to take this hand and just flip your hair for me just flip it back and with cem cem yes just like that so what I want though is it not for your head to move and this is something important to explain if they start moving there head like this then suddenly the attachment point of where the hair goes is moving away from your camera and all different places so she has to keep still hold her head in the same position and just flick just like that and this is sort of the attachment place of an image is something that we don't often think about like I photograph people sometimes getting their hair moving getting their dress moving and they've already lost their pose so their head's not in the same position and I have to go back and match those things up so I'm looking at this image and I'm like okay or head straight on to camera I know that now so I'm going to get her in that same position I would usually show her on the back of my camera in this case you can see right now so you hold that same pose and then whenever you're ready just flick your hair it doesn't matter so much what your face is doing or anything like that and huns you're just a prop it this point blocking the light off her they're doing a very good job so whenever you're ready we'll just toss the hair okay good good so I've got some hair movement there and if we can pull those up side by side we'll take a look at that again now I would do this one more time and the reason being I really want to make sure that the hair makes sense and it doesn't really make sense to have hair moving upward just in that spot all of a sudden so when I'm making these really simple swaps and photoshopped a making sure that it actually works you know not just kind of somebody's hair going like this because it looks cool it just has to make sense I want just a little bit of motion here so I'm going to ever do that again and this isn't her fault it's just me I just need to catch it at a different moment so I'm going to go out and catch the hare hopefully moving out like this instead of like that up in the air you're going to be really good at here flipping in a second okay I'm ready whenever you are good oh yeah much better so we just got a little little bit of motion and the good thing about this lighting's that we're thinking about all the elements here is that the whiting is pretty even so if we wanted more than that then if we go back to that last shot of the hair we can actually just take that hair and transform it a little bit so we could sort of rotate it have it look like it's coming this way instead of straight up we can move that hair around and the reason is because the background is consistent and neutral and because the lighting is consistent and neutral if this background there were trees back there you would not be able to select that hair and rotate it because then the tree would be on its side and can't have that so thinking about the background super important I personally when I shoot things for clients that aren't like all on location it has to be a certain way I try to get a really neutral background behind in just any situation where I'll get some hair shots in different you know fabric shop stuff like that that way I know that I can composite it to a different background later if I need thio one way that I do this is if I have somebody with me all just have them go get a sheet and just hold it up real quick in the background so hold it up behind them and run away when I don't need them anymore and then I don't have to go to a studio I don't have to do anything special I just have somebody holding a background really really quick it could be a reflector you know somebody could just hold up the white side of a reflector depending on the hair color and so on so forth so that's something that I'm thinking about when I am doing compositing like this something else to keep in mind with composites with simple simple swamps like this is what's in the foreground of the image so let's say that I wish that I had some I knew I should have picked some sticks yesterday I just knew it but let's say that you have some foliage okay we're going to get creative use your imagination everybody this is some foliage right here so would one of you guys come up and hold my foliage for me you'll come okay so I'm just gonna be holding just about there and you guys can just look real cute together again now if this is our foliage and you know I'm being really artsy now and I'm like shooting through the foliage okay so I'm going to take the shot okay so now you really got to use your imagination for this but this is our shot with on so imagine that's like tree branches and something really cool so we've got that and that is in the foreground now you have to pay attention to the foreground because obviously if I was going to fix her hand I couldn't do that without moving everything now and sometimes that's not just a matter of moving a tripod out of the way sometimes that's a matter of moving locations so keep that in mind what's in the foreground what's in the background it's not just the background that's important it's also what is going to obstruct the view of your subject when you're shooting so I'm trying to keep that in mind now if this was just a treatments that I could just swatted away and take a shot and it would be all fine but if not we have a major problem thank you I'll take the tree back way go okay so now let's play with your veil because I specifically was like we need a long veil so I might as well take advantage of that and I want to talk about a potential problem with this not is that it is sheer so this is not a solid piece of anything it's easy enough to take somebody's hand and do something different with their hand because that's a solid object this is not this is very very sheer so let's say that you're shooting this and you're like okay I wanna have the veil really really long in this other picture with that sunset behind well you're going to see the sun set behind the veil there a couple of things that we need to do with this then we need to figure out if we can add that sunset in behind the veil later what maybe you add different clouds in maybe you just let it come through with a blending mode but in this case all we want to do is make sure that there's nothing to distracting in the background who would like to be distracting oh did you want to be distracting rene okay because you said earlier that you would be totally willing to jump up to do anything so I'm just gonna have you do like a little through the background of the pictures yeah could you take a little step forward thank you okay now I need a veil person okay so she could totally do this herself but I just thought we could have fun with other people so I'm gonna be start over there rene and then you will just jump this direction when I say which what I'm illustrating is probably a very obvious thing but let's pretend that it's not so I am going to get my focus I think and all right now on the count of three rene job oh you did very well that was great that was really good no you stay there and okay you can put down running because that was like hot and I'm going to stay in the same spot okay so I'm not moving nobody else is moving and I'm just going to take one more picture of that okay so let's go ahead and compare those two that was just that was so good I mean that was like wow okay so let's compare those two shots and when we do that we can see that obviously in one wee khun see rene in the background normally I would love that but in this case we don't love that someone so okay so you're the child in this picture who is like distracting in the background but because I have this blank shot I've got composing the same the lighting is the same and all I need to do now let's say that let's say that in that photo her face was like the most pristine face you've ever seen him so perfect and in this one like uh I could use that other face well then it's really good to have this shot of nothing behind the subject so let's do that one more time you guys this time I need you to look really ugly okay just sort of um you could do anything it could be like you're like like that like when I closed or like your hands with something weird okay we're going to go for it this is going to be good oh that's great ok renee whenever you're ready good okay and now I'm going to take another one so now you just look real pretty okay great okay so let's compare those two shops here were the happiest jumper I've ever seen okay so good this's my kind of wedding photography okay so now we have the veil doing almost exactly the same thing so here is the obvious case oh I did that the wrong way you guys you didn't help me with that uh this is like the so moment every trunk about before okay well we don't have to do it again we won't have time to do it again but in any case imagine that that's the one with the bad face and that's the one with the good face do you understand my point um I okay good thank you okay so you guys could take a break for a moment thank you very much

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 (

Student Work