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Intermediate Composite - Downtown

Lesson 49 from: Incredible Engagement Photography

Pye Jirsa

Intermediate Composite - Downtown

Lesson 49 from: Incredible Engagement Photography

Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

49. Intermediate Composite - Downtown

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of the lesson is creating an intermediate composite engagement photograph in a downtown setting.


  1. How can light affect the composition of a photograph?

    Light can create highlights and shadows, which can add depth and interest to a photograph.

  2. What is the importance of capturing motion in a frame?

    Horizontal motion in a frame can be exaggerated and create a dynamic effect in a photograph.

  3. How can exposure differences be fixed in post-processing?

    In post-processing, exposure differences can be fixed by adjusting brightness, whites, highlights, and shadows.

  4. What is the purpose of using a white balance selector in Lightroom?

    The white balance selector can help correct color casts by selecting a neutral area in the photograph.

  5. What is the recommended color space for editing photographs?

    SRGB is recommended for editing photographs as it is commonly used for displays and output devices.

  6. How can layers and masks be used in Photoshop to create a composite photograph?

    Layers and masks can be used to blend different elements of a photograph and selectively reveal or hide certain parts.

  7. What is the importance of final adjustments, such as cropping and sharpening, in creating a composite photograph?

    Final adjustments, including cropping and sharpening, help refine the composition and enhance the overall appearance of the photograph.


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Posing Guidance for Him


Posing Guidance for Her


Foundational Posing


Posing Touch Points


Couples Body Language


Posing Three Point Check


Posing Tips with Demo


Lesson Info

Intermediate Composite - Downtown

Let's go and do our city shot. Do you guys find on the interwebs? Let me know if sound effects help carry it through. Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm. If you guys can let us know in text if you like that, I'll keep doing it. Maybe add a little more. All right. So I wanted to show you guys this. This was when I'd set up the shot actually, and we were running so late, that you can see as we, as it shifts, so watch this. As the day is shifting, the light is actually pushing back, so by the time we got the couple, I want to have them right at the front and center, so that all the motion was exaggerated. By the time we brought them out, this was shot at like 4:50 and this was 5: when we got 'em out. So we're like 30 minutes past when we needed to be, and our light just pushed back really far. The reason why I love this was this shadow. I loved having the shadow at the bottom of the frame right there, a highlight in the middle of the frame, and then it goes back to shadow, and then back to highlights. I thou...

ght that was such a cool, like, I love those transitions, and it creates such a dynamic and interesting shot, and when it kind of went away, it kind of bugged me, because it didn't look as dramatic, but that's cool. It still ends up looking nice. So what we'll do is we're gonna do the same thing. I'm gonna select out my image that I want, and I'm gonna go ahead, and I think we're gonna pick this image. We'll find one with the right pole, kind of like this one. That doesn't really matter, any of those are fine. Okay. We'll pick this guy. I'm gonna press a six on that, okay. So now, we're gonna do is scan through our little intermediate composite, and we're just gonna see. This computer's a tiny bit slow. Actually, you know what? It's kind cool too. Since we did the other one, since we already did this version of the photo, for the teaser, let's do this one, just to say we did it. You know what I mean? Know I mean? Let's go for the kiss. Okay. Here's that motion. Remember I was telling you guys we got, the subjects got too far away from the frame to make our motion that we were introducing look good. To make this motion look good, we need to slow it down another one, two seconds, to get them to. The way that motion works in a frame, if you ever shoot something and you want to capture motion, you need motion to move horizontally through a frame, so that it's exaggerated. Motion going forward and backward, if you imagine, something coming closer to me doesn't make a huge difference. If you're 50 feet away, going to 30 feet away, you know what I mean? Because your size is still staying really small. But movement going this way, regardless of the size is good. Movement going this way is great when it's coming right up to the lens, when that movement is coming close to the lens, that's fantastic. We can exaggerate that movement by either using horizontal movements, or we get the movements going back and forward closer to the camera. Cool? I just felt like an Italian for a moment, when I was talking with my hands. You know what I mean? Body language, guys. Italians love doing that. Just saying. Ken is like, mm-hmm. Let's get back to this. Sure. I wanted to shout out the word contrapasta. Contrapasta! Because every time you say- Sounds delicious, actually. It sounds Italian, it sounds like pasta instead of pasto. I like that, contrapasta. People love your commentary, by the way. Oh, fantastic. Let's do more of it. (sings) (audience laughs) Just kidding. Okay (laughs). This is the end, guys. We're getting near the end. All right. So check this out. Now we need to pick out our motion from the shots. I kind of dig this little car driving by, it has a nice motion, it has a nice line. I'm gonna mark it a six. I dig this dude and we won't have to zoom in on every one of 'em. Let's just go ahead and pick it from this view. So I kind of dig this guy. He has that "I need to quit my job and become a photographer" kind of look, which I dig. It's great. Let's put him in the shot. Okay. We're gonna use maybe this guy, Ooh, I like this one, because this one kind of opens up around the legs a little bit. That's a nice one. Let's definitely use that one. I like this dude. He's got that business dude thing going on. I like these ones. Perfect. ♪ Loverly ♪ Okay. And let's grab a flare. I think I like this flare the best, that one right over the center. Look at that cool effect on the bokeh. I'm adjusting the aperture by the way, in camera if I need to, to kind of change the size and shape of these a little bit. You all know what defines the shape of the bokeh effects? It's the (audience responds) Huh? Yeah, the blades on your aperture, and the shape and everything of the, you know. All right. Okay. So we're gonna go ahead. We've selected our images. We're gonna press the red filter to bring up those images into this little display, and since we've finished this grouping, then let's go ahead and select those and press six just to move them from our view right now. We're gonna go ahead and process these images. Now I selected this one too, because I want to show you guys what do you do when there's a slight exposure change, especially with evening composites where, and I think there's actually an exposure change across these images, but with evening composites, you're often gonna have exposure differences from start to finish because if it's across a five minute period, the sun is setting, and that sunlight changes pretty dramatically across it. If you're not adjusting for it in camera, you'll need to fix it in post. Let's do that in post. What we'll go ahead and do is press D. Let's jump into the development module. Let's go ahead and process this image. I'm gonna go ahead and brighten this up. I'm going to subtract a little bit of these whites, and bring down a little bit of the highlights just to preserve some of that dynamic range a little bit. It's got good shadows, but I could add a little bit, just to get a little bit of contrast there. I'm gonna add a bit of clarity. I'm pressing J to that highlight alert on. I'm gonna also add a bit of warmth to the image. I like scenes like this to have a little bit of that warmth. I was using a ND filter in the shot, so something I like to do is ND filters will typically come off a bit green. The nicer the filter, we talked about the better the filter, the less color cast you get, but you will still get some. One of my favorite tricks for this is I'll just pick a target area that's somewhat neutral. The thing about this white balance selector, if you press W in Lightroom, a lot of people feel like they have to select something that's white to get a white balance. You just need to select something that's neutral. It can be gray, it can be black, it can be whatever, as long as there's detail there and it's neutral, you'll get to a decent white balance. I know the cement her is not fully neutral, but it's close. I'm gonna click it and see where it gets me. It gets me to a very warm temperature, but actually corrects the tint pretty well, so all I need to do is just bring the temperature down. You'll see it'll actually correct parts of it. We can correct by clicking the building, and then correcting off that, we can click on, you know, if his suit was actually black, I think it's blue so we're not gonna click there. But you can click somewhere that's somewhat close to neutral and make a tweak and you'll see that that actually looks pretty dang decent. Great places to click are like the whites of eyes, they're not generally pure white but they still get you to a close point. You know your teeth? Another great spot. A white shirt, a gray sign, those kind of things will get you to a point that you can work from, okay? So just to show you, that's how green it was a second ago versus this. All right. Let's make sure it looks good here. I'm gonna get below. That looks fantastic. Okay. What I'm gonna do now, sorry, is zoom in. I'm gonna go ahead and just adjust my sharpening a little bit, add in our standard noise reduction for portraits, and let's go ahead and pull in a little burn right across the frame, and press J just to turn off that highlight alert now. Okay, so that looks great. Now let's go back to the grid view. I'm gonna synchronize this across all these images by holding down shift, left-clicking, control + shift + S, to bring up our Synchronize Settings, and then we're gonna just simply, all we need to do is just off the level adjustments. We don't really have any crop or spot removal or anything like that, so that's fine. So let's just make that adjustment. Now notice, with the same exact settings, how much brighter these images are. Okay, what I might do is, let's do this. Let's do refried beans again. So let's just take off our radial filter. We'll add that back in as our last step just so we don't have to worry about that right now. Let's just get now the tones between these about right. So look at these two. I'm gonna go ahead and just adjust this tone down a bit. So we're just gonna take the exposure back. I'm gonna click back and forth. Great. One more click. One more click, perfect. Now we're gonna take that and synchronize it across these. Control and command + shift + S, and watch. I'm gonna go from one image to the next. Just look at the consistency. Okay. This one's gonna be a little bit off. Let's tweak that a little bit. I don't mind it being a little more warm than the other ones but I don't want it to be too warm. So I'm gonna go back just a little bit maybe, so it's a little bit on a chilled-out effect or chilled outside. We're also gonna brighten it maybe a little bit. Okay. Select all eight of these. Let's go into Photoshop > Open as Layers, and let's take a question while this chugs away for a second. All right, quick question. Do you shoot and edit in Pro Photo RGB or Adobe RGB? We edit in Adobe, or actually, SRGB. So set Lightroom to SRGB just because, so I think Lightroom and this is the weird thing about color spaces, color spaces are all funky but generally, most of the displays, most of the things that you're outputting to are using SRGB, right? So your computer displays, iPads, you know, every place that we're viewing these is SRGB. Printers, when they go to print, they're actually gonna convert it to, you know, whatever printing mode that they need. Sometimes it's CMYK, whatever they might use, but they convert from SRGB. So what we found, the simplest thing to do, we don't need to get that flawless pinpoint accuracy that you might in commercial and that kind of arena, like fashion and that kind of stuff, so going to SRGB and allowing the printer to worry about it. And the difference is so minuscule that we've never seen an issue. Okay. All right. So what I'm gonna do now is what I typically like to do with this kind of shot is I'll put the plate shot up top, and what I'm gonna do is just drag and drop a layer above it. Oh, let's do our line thing first. Let's control + A, sorry, let's go ahead and control + D to deselect that. Let's go ahead and select all of our layers right here. Go to Auto-Align, and even if you are on a tripod, you still need to do this. There's small variances and fluctuations and so forth like in that movement that you need to do this with. Okay, so just align it before you get started. Edit > Auto Align. In case. All right. So now what we're gonna do is we're gonna drag and drop from the bottom up. That almost rhymed. I felt like it was close, but not quite. Let's click this guy and let's bring it right over the top. So we got a dude right there. It's a'ight. The dude's kind of cool. Let's actually find our cars. That was my favorite piece of the shot was the cars. So what I'm gonna do is actually go and find that one first. So we can hold down alt or option and click the different layers 'cause my screen is so small, I can't really tell what's what. So there's the cars right there. So I'm gonna grab this guy and drag it right up to the top. And what we're gonna do is add a layer mask. This is where we're gonna start bringing our flow down. So let's go down to 10%. Okay, and what I'm gonna do basically is click + alt or option, click the mask, oops, sorry. Let's do this backwards again. You could do it either way. I'll show you the other way. Hold down alt or option, then click the mask so it creates a black mask over the shot. So now you're concealing the layer that you're working on. And now we're just gonna go and press X to bring your white back up, and you're just gonna paint this in. And what I'll do is I'll actually speed this up around the outside. We just need to be concerned about it when we get towards their feet. Okay. I don't necessarily want the people in there but that's all right. We might have another element that we can use. We'll see. Okay, I'm gonna just quickly zoom in, press Z, just gonna zoom in. Now I don't mind a little bit of fade to the feet, right, because think about it. If you think about your camera, if the cars drove kind of dragged over their feet, you would have a tiny bit of a fade there just for a moment. We wouldn't be able to see the background through the fade but you'd have a little bit of a fade. So what I'm gonna do is just press B and then I'm gonna just conceal it a little bit so it's just right towards the bottom of that little edge. Perfect. Let's press control + 0 to go back. All right. Now let's start, so that was my mean featured piece that I really wanted in my shot. So I like to start there sometimes and kind of work my way back. So let's check out this layer. We have a guy there. He's kind of cool. What about this layer? We have a better car right here maybe. So let's grab this car and let's go up to the top. Alt, click your mask, or option + click. Press X, and let's remove these guys by now adding this car in. I'm not even gonna do it. You guys know what I want to do. I'm just not gonna do it. I'm gonna preserve the last little bit of dignity that I have, which isn't a lot at this point honestly. Let's grab this car. That's a cool car. Let's throw this one up top and press alt or option, grab that guy, and throw that in. You guys see this thing coming together? We can actually stop at any point and it'd be totally fine. What I'm gonna do is add this dude. I kind of like that dude. Looks like he's had a hard day at work. I dig that. He's working hard. Let's bring him into the shot. Okay, this is where we're gonna have to start being a little bit careful 'cause as we go down, we're gonna start eliminating the cars. So what we want to do is we want to keep the dark spots in the frame where the car is. So we don't want to show the background basically. We just want to show the movement of him and then press X and then just kind of bring the car back right there. So I'm just gonna bring the car back along those edges so we can see it. Cool? And then what else do we got? We got a dude. Oh those guys. Let's get some of those guys. We've got a couple there. Let's make this look like a busy scene. Gosh dang, I keep doing that every single time. Okay, grab these dudes. Where is my flip to white? Do you love how like this is so freeform and whimsical? Like I can choose to leave however much of the motion, whatever I want to do with the shot. It's totally up to you. If you shoot the composite right, you can do anything you want with it in post. All right. Let's go down. Let's grab this guy. This is my final piece. I don't have to use all my layers. Just because I brought them in, I don't need to use them all. If I feel like I've got enough, I'll just finish it off with my, this is my nightcap. Bring in the nightcap. What do you call it, grand finale? That might be a better word than a nightcap. I'm gonna, watch this. I'm so good I'm just gonna look at you while I'm painting. I totally screwed this up. I need to fix that now. Okay, and then I'm just go ahead and get his face back. I'm gonna go ahead and just kind of feather this off a little bit, just kind of feather out. I'm just switching my brush to a black brush, painting out. Press control + S, save this out. Let's go back into Lightroom. Let's grab this image, and let's do our final steps. Radial filter, bring that attention right into our subjects. Add a little bit of clarity. Pull down on the exposure if you want. Actually, I think I like it the way it was. Let's go right there. Cool. Let's grab this guy and mark it a five star just so we can compare this to this guy. We're gonna reset out the shot, control + shift + R, command + shift + R. Let's select our five-star images. And there. Here's our composite. Cool? This is. (laughter) I'm just kidding. Ah, so dumb. Okay. So that is the process of creating the composite. So when I shot this, this is what I have in my head is like kind of all of these different pieces and how they're gonna blend together, and by the way, we do need to just kind of, I would crop this in just a little bit to kind of, I don't like the dark edge over there, and I don't like the, there's gonna be little white edges where it aligned along the outside, so just make sure you do a final crop just to pull it in. But that's basically it. So you have to just kind of think of where you're going with this final shot, take all the different pieces. Someone said instead of CMA, Cover My Arse, it's CYA, Cover Your Arse, whatever, whosever arse you'd like to cover, guys, just cover it. Okay? So take a few extra shots and kind of, you don't have to use everything in that final composite to create the image.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Pre-Shoot Videos
Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Presets Installation Guide
Gear Guide
Favorite Software
Lightroom Presets

Ratings and Reviews

CPR Photography

I think Pye Jirsa is one of the best, if not the best, instructor for photography on Creative Live. He is very personable, smart and approachable. He has a perfect blend of personality (comments, laughs, tangents..) to the amount of instruction. He asks the questions for you, because he knows you are thinking those questions right then. He's very good about identifying settings, gear, etc.. and not leaving us in the dark about how he "got the shot". He goes into great detail. His instructions flow, but are linear, which is helpful. He's very organized, and you can tell that he really put a lot of work into his presentations (slides, video, test shoots, live teaching, graphics, etc..) I have been listening to him for like 10 hours straight, and still haven't gotten tired of him. He keeps things moving, He's very funny too. Nice job, I've learned so much. :)

a Creativelive Student

This course was AMAZING. I'd say int he past year or two I've fallen into a slump. Uninspired by my surroundings and uninspired by my clients. As a result, it showed through my work. My posing suffered as well and more than a handful of times some of my shoots became more than awkward. Then I bought this course and watched most of it in the course of a day. I walked away inspired, blown away, and renewed. The next day I walked into an engagement session confident. I gave my couples a quick overview on posing and then we just had fun in front of the camera. Immediately afterwards they texted me about how amazing their shoot was and how relaxed I made them feel about posing. The photos turned out fantastic to say the least. I've since shot several more engagement sessions and each one of them has been amazing. If anything, this course should inspire photographers to think outside the box and provide you with the necessary skills to take incredible engagement photos. Thank you Pye and Creative Live! I cannot speak more highly of this course. I should also state I purchased Pye's Natural Light course on SLR Lounge: this course is a wonderful addition to that. If you already own the natural light course and are hesitant about purchasing this one, don't. Buy it and reap the benefits!


This is by far one of the best courses I have taken. Pye makes learning fun and easy to understand. I feel like I have learned so much throughout the course, that I have truly advanced my photography skills. I am so excited to get out there and try so many of the techniques that he showed. I would love to take another course of his. The pricing for the course doesn't even compare to how wonderful the education truly is, I really got more than my money's worth on this one.

Student Work