Com­pos­ite your shots

Digital Photograper - - Creative Sport & Action -

You can utilise Pho­to­shop and com­bine all your de­sired el­e­ments into a sin­gle im­age

Hav­ing the abil­ity to merge sev­eral photo com­po­nents to­gether in post opens up a vast num­ber of pos­si­bil­i­ties for dy­namic com­po­si­tion and ex­po­sure. In a genre where sub­jects are mov­ing er­rat­i­cally and at high speed, it can be nearly im­pos­si­ble to cap­ture a pre­cise com­po­si­tion in a sin­gle frame. Cap­tur­ing a well-po­si­tioned, cor­rectly lit, in­ac­tion por­trait of an ath­lete is not re­al­is­ti­cally achiev­able as they run around a track, but tak­ing the shoot into a stu­dio, where you can pose the sub­ject and sculpt the light­ing, makes it pos­si­ble. A very com­mon tech­nique is to shoot an ap­pro­pri­ate back­ground, edit this sep­a­rately and over­lay a posed, stu­dio-shot, in-ac­tion sports por­trait in Pho­to­shop.

The key re­quire­ment for com­posit­ing work is to en­sure that light­ing is uni­form in each com­po­nent and that the colour tem­per­a­ture of the light on the sub­ject matches the back­ground. It is pos­si­ble to con­trol the colour of stu­dio light­ing by us­ing gels, but in the com­posit­ing work­flow it is of­ten eas­ier to change the white bal­ance to match each el­e­ment, as this of­fers the great­est level of con­trol. Pho­to­shop has sev­eral pow­er­ful tools that are es­sen­tial for suc­cess­ful selections and ex­trac­tions of el­e­ments. The Quick Se­lec­tion Tool (W) is a go-to fea­ture, due to its speed of op­er­a­tion and ‘smart’ char­ac­ter­is­tics – the tool re­mem­bers when selections are mod­i­fied and uses this in­for­ma­tion to gen­er­ate more ac­cu­rate selections. Us­ing the Re­fine Edge fea­ture al­lows pre­cise se­lec­tion of de­tailed edges such as hair, with a higher Smart Ra­dius set­ting on the Ra­dius slider cor­re­spond­ing to a more com­plex and de­tailed se­lec­tion. If shoot­ing the sub­ject in a stu­dio, try us­ing a rim light to high­light their out­line against a neu­tral grey back­ground – this makes it eas­ier for Pho­to­shop to ‘find’ the edges of ob­jects when form­ing a se­lec­tion. In the Out­put panel of the Re­fine Edge di­a­logue, check the De­con­tam­i­nate Col­ors box to re­move any colour spilling onto the ex­trac­tion from the rest of the im­age.



Fi­nal im­age

af­ter some fi­nal global bright­ness and con­trast ad­just­ments, each el­e­ment blends nat­u­rally in the fi­nal com­pos­ite im­age

above - bot­tom

Find a suit­able back­ground

Dave Lehl shot this Hong Kong street early one morn­ing. Of­ten it pays to shoot images with po­ten­tial fu­ture com­pos­ites in mind

above - top left

Pose the sub­ject

Shoot­ing your main sub­ject in con­trolled light­ing con­di­tions pro­vides scope for per­fect­ing ex­po­sure and com­po­si­tion

above - top right Fore­ground rain

One way to add rain is to cre­ate a black Fill Layer, go Fil­ter>Noise> Add Noise, ap­ply a Mo­tion Blur and change blend mode to Screen


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