Join Jan Kabili for an in-depth discussion in this video Choosing images, part of Photoshop CS4: Image Compositing for Photographers.
A composite image, as that term is used in this course, is a single image that's put together in Photoshop from parts of multiple photographs. The first step in combining photographs into a composite is to choose photos that go together in terms not only of content, but also photographic qualities, like lighting and composition. I'm going to show you some ways that you can help make images match in terms of tone, and color, and sharpness in Photoshop. But you can take care of some of the matching from the get-go as you plan and shoot photos for a composite, or if you're using existing images, as you choose those images from your own photo collection, or perhaps from stock photo collections.
Getting the lighting in the photos to match will take you a long way toward creating a convincing photorealistic composite. If you can control light by shooting in the studio, that's ideal, but a lot of times you'll be shooting in natural light. So, here are some tips for shooting in natural light that may help you to make a composite image from multiple photos later. Try to shoot at about the same time of day and try to shoot in similar lighting or weather conditions. For example, take all of your shots under a cloudy sky or under a sunny sky.
Try not to mix the two and that will help you to get the color temperature of the light to match between your shots. You also want to check that the light is coming from the same direction in different images, so that the shadows in the photos match. There are also some principles of composition to keep in mind as you're shooting, or choosing photos for a composite image. One of those is Perspective. It will help if you can shoot your photos from a similar angle. So, for example, if you're trying to put together two shots of buildings, don't choose an image that's taken from the ground level up and try to combine that with another image that's taken from a straight-on view, or you'll be buying yourself a lot more work than you need to.
Another issue of composition is orientation. I found that it's a lot easier to combine images that are both horizontal or both vertical than to combine images of different orientation. It's possible, but you'll be able to make your composite faster and with less effort if the orientations of the images match. You don't have to worry too much about matching overall image size because I'm going to show you how to do that in Photoshop, later in this chapter. But you do want to make sure that all of the images that you plan to composite are at least as big as you going to use them in the composite, so that way you won't be stuck having to upscale any images.
Now, if you're shooting RAW that won't be a problem because RAW does capture plenty of pixels for you to use. But if you're shooting JPEG, try to get the JPEG size and quality settings on your camera to match as you shoot photos for a Composite. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is Content. When you're shooting or choosing images for a composite, you'll find that it helps to avoid busy backgrounds and you want to be sure to leave some empty space on the correct side of objects if you plan to blend images together.
Now, all of these tips are general guidelines and they are all that kind of rules that are subject to being broken. So, you may find that in some cases you want to shoot at different times of day so that you can combine into one composite image of different color temperatures and you might break some of the rules as well. But, in general, following these guidelines as you shoot photos for a composite, or as you choose from existing images to put together, is likely to save you time and effort as you build your composites in Photoshop.
- Preparing photos in Adobe Camera Raw
- Customizing color settings for compositing
- Compositing with selections and masks
- Extending depth of field with compositing
- Creating panoramas and photo montages
- Incorporating text in photo composites