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Making a complicated composite photo

January 23, 2016

This project came about as a personal project and led to me doing similar work as a commission for someone that wanted to do the same thing with his family. The idea was to combine three generations of motorbike riders (grandfather, father and two sons) into one image, which would have otherwise been impossible to have photgraphed.

 

After some planning and trying to find two older photos that were on a similar enough perspective I set about getting the two modern photos, where the poses were made at a similar angle to the others in order to blend them in.

 

First I had to create a lot of background to get the image to fit all four people and their bikes. The original image is the one with the dog on the bike and it was square - the height of the final image is the same as the original. Once the extra background was made I moved the people and bikes into the image then I could start laying out the relative positions. Due to such a range of photos, from the 30's to 2015 it meant the focal distance, sharpeness etc of every image was different. This created a bit of a challenge but I knew the final image was going to have a lot of texture applied to it and this took care of some of it, but each photo needed special attention on its own.

 

The lighting in each image was also different and the contrast was very different. I spent a lot of time in the beginning just trying to get the brightness/contrast right then I moved onto the focus/sharpness of each and then onto positioning. 

 

 

Bikes look great in photographs, they evoke reactions from most people and they can look very powerful and represent freedom. However cutting out around every spoke in the wheels by hand is a very time consuming task and the opposite of freedom. In fact it's a real pain in the ass. You can't just grab the magic wand and hey presto, it's all done for you. Well, you can use the magic wand but you end up going back and redoing it all from the beginning anyway because it just doesn't work like that. 

 

Once I had the overall layout, contrast and positioning sorted I moved on to colouring the image. I had already decided that I wanted to keep the yellowed sepia tone of the original photograph and so I set about ligthing and colouring the whole image. I then found textures that complimented the final look of what I was trying to achieve and layered them over the top. There was a lot of time spent in this phase making sure the colouring was reacting the same on each image and that the texture wasn't placed somewhere that added weird noise to anything important. I then also added a logo to the shed door to complete the image.

 

Overall this project took just over six hours of solid work and as on any project like this you never finish editing, you just run out of time. Not to say it wasn't finished but you can go on forever tweaking every little part of the image over and over again. The other thing that is important with composites like this is to take time away from the image, like overnight, otherwise you can miss some very basic things (I show students examples of professional adds with wrong reflections, parts missing etc) because you are so caught up in the flow of work and pushing to finish it. 

 

I am very happy with the finished image and the recipient was over the moon and it now takes pride of place on their wall. The final image was printed out at 1300mm wide and mounted onto foam board and it catches the eye when you enter the room.

 

You can check out the before and after in the Photo Manipulation page where you can scroll back and forth between the two images and see the difference.

 

 

I posted this image on a motorbike forum and had someone approach me to do the same sort of thing for them. Their image took over six hours to complete as there were a couple of changes and additions to the image as it progressed but they were very happy with the final image as well. To add complexity to this particular image the original photo only had half the car in it but luckily I like old American cars and recognised it and managed to recreate the front half of the car to add to the background.

 

 

Here are the original elements for the image

 

And here was the final image. The client was extremely happy with the final image and gave it to his father as a present (he's the one in the red shirt)

 If you would like any photoshop work done then just email me with the details and we can talk about what can be done.

 

Cheers

Warwick