Join Julieanne Kost for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating your own image bank, part of The Art of Photoshop Compositing.
It's been my experience that when creating a composite, I often need to photograph one or two specific elements in order to tell my story. Most of the time, it's the primary subjects that I have to photograph, because they need to be specific to the image that I want to create. Other times, however, I've reached into my image archives and found images that I already have. Of all of the elements that I need for this story that I want to tell. I would suggest that if you're going to create your own composites, that you start photographing different elements. Even if you're not exactly sure where you would use them.
For example, I have huge collections of landscapes, from flowering green foothills, to stark barren deserts. And I've got skies that range from menacing clouds, to peaceful sunsets. I'm constantly capturing textures and little objects like rocks are pods that I think would make great supporting elements or even primary subjects and these elements can be taken even when the entire scene is not ideal. For example I will often photograph a landscape that isn't perfect knowing that I can remove an element. Or just use the portion that I do like.
Basically I take a photograph of any location or object that evokes an emotional response. I focus on trying to capture the feeling of the place or the subject that I'm photographing if I think that I might be able to use it in a future composite to tell a story. When I am photographing elements I find that flatter light is my friend. I find it's much easier to match images that have a weaker directional light, and when needed I can always add contrast and shadows much easier than I can remove them.
If I'm trying to make a more photo realistic image, then I need to try to match both the direction and the quality of the light. Also, if I'm trying to match elements, then I need to pay attention to the depth of field throughout the composit. If I'm photographing for my image bank, meaning that I'm not sure how I'm going to use the photograph, then I will capture at least one image at f11 or higher, keeping as much of the image sharp as possible. It's much easier to soften an image than it is to sharpen it after the fact. I will also make sure that I take some photographs with a shallower depth of field.
Setting the aperture to f four or even 2.8 if possible. Or I'll even use my tilt shift lens, if I feel the scene will benefit from highly selective focus. It's much easier to take a few additional photographs then to emulate lens blur after capture. I'm also going to make sure that I photograph the scene or objects from multiple perspectives. It can be so disappointing to have an incredible photograph of an object but not be able to blend it into a scene because the angle of view doesn't match the other elements in the image.
And when I am photographing elements especially if you think you're going to flip them maybe horizontally, be sure to take note of any writing that will be obvious when flipped. And in case you're just getting started I've included 40 different images for you to use as background elements in your own projects. There are clouds, landscapes and textures that you can use while you're creating your own image bank.
- What makes a good composite?
- Refining your story
- Composing using the basic principles of design
- Customizing your Photoshop workspace
- Preparing elements from your source images
- Adjusting color, tone, balance, and perspective
- Mastering the Pen tool
- Unifying with texture, focus, leading lines, and structure