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How To: Compositing

Updated: Mar 30

Compositing is the art of combining two or more images together to create a single image. Why would you use compositing, you ask? Why not shoot the image perfectly in camera? Well, there are many instances where compositing an image would be beneficial for the photograph. For example, if you are shooting a model with an animal, you may not be able to achieve that desired shot together. Other times, images may need an extra boost to create a certain look and feel. Compositing is often used in product photography to piece together multiple exposure of a product to get that perfect image. You will also see compositing done in glamour photography.

PHLearn has a create tutorial to introduce compositing. Check out the video below.

I will use this image below to show you how to start using compositing in your photography.

To begin this image, I set up two strobes and put coloured gels on them. The image was shot at f/8, 1/125 at ISO 100. I had an assistant fan the model and starting shooting to capture several shots with the model's hair in the wind. I brought all my shots in to Lightroom to review the hair and pick which ones I liked best.

Here is the before and after image using layers and layer masks.

I opened the best shot of my model and placed the other shots on top in separate layers in Photoshop.

I reduced the opacity of the layer to line up the hair in certain spots. Then I brought up the opacity back to 100%.

I added a layer mask (filled with black, hit control + I on a PC or command + I on a Mac) and painted in the areas with my paint brush using white as learned in the PHLearn video.

I switched back to black to hide certain areas. Voila! This is how I created this composite.

There you have it! A quick guide on compositing. Where do you use compositing more in your photography? Leave a comment below.

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