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Why Composite ?

Lesson 2 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

Why Composite ?

Lesson 2 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

2. Why Composite ?

Next Lesson: 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

Why Composite ?

one reason why people composite is tio correct a shooting mistake you know maybe you maybe you have a bride and groom and maybe this picture is beautiful but then you notice that there's a runner in the background or something like that and you're like oh no I can't give that to them maybe it's something even bigger than that where you could just can't use the clone stamp tool and you need to figure something else it's out well then maybe you need to move that couple to a different background all together maybe that's going to just make that image pops so much more and it's going to be the centerpiece of your images that you give to them so sometimes it's just to correct a mistake for me it is very often to correct a mistake very often it's about fixing something that I didn't notice and something that I do constantly is I'm too lazy to move my bag out from the shot so I don't have my camera stuff right there and then I have to get that out later and and I know that I'll be able to bec...

ause I know that I'm going to be taking enough pictures to be able to do that it saves time and energy you're probably thinking compositing does not save time or energy because that is a very labors process but I beg to disagree what I find to be a very liberace process is to take a whole bunch of lights out to the forest and try to do it all perfectly all at once I have huge respect for people that do that I just don't have the patience for it and I don't have that technical what's the word when you really really want something I don't have that for lighting yeah uh so I do this to save time and energy so I spend my time planning I spend my time trying to figure out what exactly it is that I want to say with my image and then after that process I shoot for about fifteen minutes on average I like shooting for a less amount of time because that means that I could go sit on my computer and edit for more time so I try to budget my time like that so when you think of maybe I don't know let's say that you like to shoot on location you like to shoot with lights maybe you're fast photographer maybe your processes like six hours for an average photo shoot well that's my average time editing so that means that my average time spent is the amount of times somebody spend shooting a picture so for me it actually does save a lot of time in a lot of energy I also have some physical problems too so I have some physical limitations where I can't really spend six hours on a photo shoot doing manual labor and stuff like that so this is really really great for that I go out I shoot a self portrait done in fifteen minutes and then I can edit for however long it takes and I would say that a typical edit for me lost a minimum of two hours and not because it needs to go because I feel that I need to give it that much attention but the compositing element is usually thirty minutes and then it's composited together once you know these basic simple techniques for making it blend so my time is spent doing the fun things like color corrections and color overhauls in lighting effects and stuff like that adding elements later this is probably the biggest one that's going to help a lot of people and the fact is that you might not think of everything right when you're shooting you might think later on oh if only I had a ground hog in the pictures and think I don't know it's just what I thought him so maybe you're thinking something like that you're thinking I need to add that in later well knowing how to shoot it and then how to put that in later is going to enhance your image is and it could be for a bridegroom it could be first in your portrait it could be for any type of photography something added and later khun b a really good thing to enhance it fix bad posing so I think that is something very obvious but I don't know if you've ever shot somebody who's just not used to being in front of a camera and they're a little bit stiff in this and that and it could take a while to get them to loosen up now I've done this in a couple of ways I shot somebody recently are really short hair and I needed to hurt very long hair so I said it's fine we'll take your picture it's going to be great and then I photographed my own hair and I put it on later and you know nobody would ever know she was fine with it so esso I do stuff like that that's not technically bad posing but that's certainly adding something later to enhance the pose and then things like maybe you have the most gorgeous picture of a model's face and she just looks so beautiful and and you love it but then her hands like man and she's like doing something weird then maybe instead of like this you have a picture of her like this in another shot and you could just simply add that arm on and fix it all right up that's our goal there and creating more atmosphere you know I think creating atmosphere because adding things like clouds into your picture is going to be huge in creating atmosphere it's going to give it a whole new dimension and then creating atmosphere goes into those lighting effects and color adjustments that we're also going to talk about which I know is not strictly compositing but it is adding a huge element into the image that wasn't there before I'm not going to go in deep about storytelling right now but that is in my opinion one of the best ways to tell a story is to understand that you khun put elements together that just couldn't be put together in real life or you might need a very very large budget to do so in this case I wanted it to look like I was coming through another dimension in time in space mostly because I'm obsessed with doctor who anybody else okay I'm very inspired by things like that and I wanted to create an image like that but I thought how does one go about doing that I can actually create this sort of wall of space time gu so what am I going to dio so I thought compositing obviously now then it's just a matter of logic how do I actually do that what are the steps that need to be taken and how many times am I going to fail before it comes together in this case it was two times so creating something imaginary something that could not exist in real life that is something that I'm interested in doing with compositing that is why I personally sit and manipulating reality I think reality is pretty cool but not the coolest thing that's why I like science fiction and fantasy so much so that's why I create what I create we're not going to focus on that today it's not going to be the main centerpiece of what we d'oh but that is what we're building up tio creating a composite that requires a ton of different pieces to come together to create something that just we could not shoot in real life and that's going to manifest itself in a a flooded city so we'll see how that enhancing reality it could be that you just want to make something look even more magical and you just want to add a little element to it and that's really great or fixing reality I mean we all get upset with real life sometimes so why not make it a little bit better through compositing they're two ways of thinking about compositing in my opinion there very very simple ways of thinking about compositing but make a huge difference in how you approach this and that is tio shoot first and then think so that's something that I won't be doing but something that I don't think is a bad thing to do necessarily so maybe you just like the process of maybe you're going to go out and take pictures you don't know what it's going to be of you're just going to be inspired you're going to shoot a bird over there and a building over there that swim portrait's who said I wish I had the foresight to plan out my shoots and concepts with a depth and attention she does I'm more impulsive and I suppose not is creative anyone else spend that much time planning out every detail of a concept shoot before going to the shoot so is that something that you do every time or is this something that you allow yourself to be inspired in them ideo I I would say a plan ninety five percent of my chutes but that's not to say that I never just get inspired I shoot stock images all the time I shoot locations that I don't know if I'm ever going to use and I'm okay with that I'm okay with gathering the material and then saying now what work what story do I find in that and that's why I don't think this is a bad way of shooting at all however if you have a client shoot let's say you need to do something for somebody else and you need to get it right you don't have the luxury of just walking around town and getting inspired and hoping that things come together then that's when we might want to think first and then shoot and so that's kind of a difference there is how do you naturally get inspired and go with it you don't have to do anything you don't have to shoot a certain way you don't have to think about it first but knowing how to think about it is going to be so handy for being able to not think about it that makes sense so if you understand the basic concepts if you understand the checklist of logic that you need to go through then that means that when you're shooting and becoming inspired then you're already shooting for the composite whether you know what composite it is or not and that's why I think it's so important to go through these elements of what to think about and then however you're inspired be inspired that way so I have this image here and this is just an example of a recent image that I did can you see by the way no I walk over here for just a little bit okay so what I have here is a recent image that I created and and this was done in my typical fashion of sitting in a sewer and uh it's just my favorite place to be so I go to this location for a couple of reasons and they're important to note it's not just that you know I like sitting in sewers and anything like that it's a very clean sewer it's more of an underpass I would say my other one had a lot of goose poop in it but this one doesn't so that's great so in this case I went to this spot because of the background because my skin was lighter than the background that meant that I could darken it later and that would be a pretty easy process to go through I liked that the floor was just cement because that meant that I could add anything in the foreground so if I had weeds and stuff growing in front of me and then I wanted to add a rocky floor I couldn't really do that sarah has already grabbed growing up in front of me so that wouldn't really work in this case though it was just a plain floor and I could have whatever I wanted in front so that's what I'm doing here and I want to take a look at what was composited into this picture what was added what was changed so what was added to this picture we have butterflies that were not there we have strings that were not there and we have a field that was not there let's see open a hand did you guys catch that hand so if I foot back come on there we go you can see that I didn't I had a remote but it wasn't working on the two second delay I don't know why so instead I took the picture with my remote in my hand just pointing and clicking it clicked immediately in that moment I didn't have a couple seconds to put it down because of that I had to shoot a new hand this is exactly what I'm talking about with what we're going to do in the next segment which is swaps simple swamps things that you could do to swap out hands off our eyes pop out heads legs whatever you'll see an image coming up where I have six lin's all together at once point it's very entertaining to me so in this case I move that hand and that's what was added but what was changed then from this we have the color of the dress which was changed we have the color of the hair and we darken the background so those are things that did not go into the composite but if I just had let's see what's what if I didn't darken that background and what if it was just a sewer in the background with a field of growing up all around me that wouldn't make sense so compositing can't just stop when everything is added it has to stop when everything has changed and blended together and that's why I think it's important to note what was added and what was changed in this case because it makes a really big difference it makes a difference in how you understand this image now the backgrounds dark so now you're not thinking hey she's in a sewer wonder what she's doing there you're thinking oh it's dark and mysterious and I don't know where she is she's in a field make time maybe and I don't know what's going on well I don't know if that's what you're thinking actually that's what I hope you're thinking ok so now with this image this was done kind of strangely it was a very makeshift studio thing going on here where I wanted a white backdrop but alas I do not own a white backdrop of any kind so I used a bedsheet and I hung that bed sheet from a balcony and just had a hanging and that kind of stopped like here on my body so I made sure to pose with my hair behind that white backdrop because who hates compositing hair onto a different background I d'oh so I didn't want to do that so I made sure that the white was covering my hair and my upper body but then I also had to composite the flowers in and things like that so let's talk a little bit about how that came together the first thing if you can see over here on this side that one is the main pose that we ended up using I don't know why I say we it was just me but uh a lot of the pose that I used and that's what I started building on top of and that's a concept that we're going to talk a lot about throughout this three days is what is the main shot what are the details shots and what else do you need to put it together in the end so this is the main post this is the shot where once I got that image I said that's it I'm going to use that picture and then I'm going to build on top of that so once I had that I actually ended up taking my hair down taking some hair shots just in case I had it just in case I wanted that and then I started taking these flower shops and what you notice about these flower shots is that they're right up against that background and they're up against there for two reasons one I don't want to cut something out two I wanted to create natural shadows and see how it would actually look with the lighting and how it's touching the fabric and all of that so I took a whole bunch of flower shots and I made sure to that I had enough that I could put them all together for that final image and then I took some dress shots from the dress shots were just me wearing that sheet throwing the sheet out to the side knowing where the dress would be created so let me step back here again to the spinal image now in this image we have a couple of things going on we have flowers okay and that's that's all well and good and we shop we don't I must have an imaginary friend or something so I shot the flowers right there where you see them roughly in those same positions I tried to maintain the shadows which you can kind of see happening underneath some and then I have the main post but what was added was the sheet where it wasn't before so we've got sheet happening in through here where it wasn't in the past and then this exactly right here is right where you saw that fabric moving where I threw it and I threw it from that point because I knew that that's where I wanted the dress to come from not up here not down here but right where it wass and right so is that something we can talk about later when we talk about compositing dresses and creating fabric dresses and stuff like that but it's something important to note that every single way that I shot these things it was important for how it came together in the end

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 :)


Brooke has a wonderful way of not only making it all look so easy, but actually be easy. In a plain and down to earth manner, she can make both beginner and advanced pro comfortable with the material covered in this class. From a simple starting point to a polished post-production finished work of art, she takes us on a relaxed and joyous journey. I am a former professional commercial photographer returning to the art after a 30 year absence. When I left, there was no such thing as digital photography. Now, to be able to embrace such concepts and techniques as taught by Brooke, without any difficulty to me, says that this course provides great value and time well spent. Well done Brooke! Well done Creative Live!

Student Work