I’ve been using Photoshop for over 10 years now. Version 6/7 was one of the first pieces of software I got hold of when I bought my first PC back in 2002 and I’ve been using it almost on a daily basis ever since. My favorite kind of stuff to do in Photoshop is Composition & Editing, where you bring several photographic or even graphical elements together in one job and make it look like they were always meant to be together.
Typically each of my photo composition jobs follows the same process – I come up with some weird idea then go online to find the source files. Normally I just look in Google images for the best quality, hi-res images I can find. This can be a pain for 2 reasons:
- All images used in a composition need to match in terms of angle, lighting, levels, etc.. in order to give the best, most realistic results. It can be pretty hard finding these kind of matching files at a high enough quality and I usually end up doing a hell of a lot more editing or compromising on something, even my initial idea just to suit the material available,
- Once you hit “Search Tools – Usage Rights – Labelled for reuse” in Google images results, the number of suitable images you’re allowed use decreases even more dramatically. Also, for the amount of compositions I do, buying suitable stock imagery is too expensive an option.
So what’s the best thing to do?
Even though it adds a lot of time to a Photoshop project, you can wipe out the above 2 problems pretty quickly by creating your own imagery. All you really need is an idea, a decent camera, a tripod, some free time and maybe some decent weather if it’s an outdoor shot. Creating your own shots obviously isn’t possible if you want to be working on fantasy stuff involving dragons etc but I find that if you Photoshop everyday situations, the resulting subtlety can actually impress a bit more then OTT stuff.
I was hanging around the house and garden with the kids over the weekend and a couple of ideas came to me so I grabbed all I had (Smart Phone Camera) and took a few shots of the girls as they played. For each shot I took, I asked them to move out of the frame and took another shot immediately after while trying to remain as still as possible. What this does is give me 2 fairly identical shots in terms of lighting and angle etc..with the only difference in both photos being the presence of the subject I planned to Photoshop. You then simply bring both photos into Photoshop and cut the subject out and place it in the second shot with no subject. It should blend in straight away with little further editing but you can move it around, resize, rotate etc without it looking too out of place..
Ideally, you’d plan the shot a bit more in advance than I did here, maybe having your subject pose in some special way then use a proper hi quality camera mounted on a tripod but it was a lazy, Sunday afternoon when I done all this so wasn’t in the humor of digging all the stuff out! There was a little bit of posing in the “Fairy” shot below as I asked Hanne to jump off that play frame to try capture her mid air. I then just resized her smaller and added some wings and a shadow! In the other pic I just snapped Ellie doing her thing then just made her bigger!
Even though there’s not much planning and I used a phone camera, I think the realness of the results are impressive?
More of my Photoshop stuff is on Pinterest.