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Shooting for Composite

Lesson 5 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

Shooting for Composite

Lesson 5 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

5. Shooting for Composite


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction


Why Composite ?


Logic Checklist


What Not To Do When Compositing


Shooting for Composite


Changing Backgrounds and Light


Shoot: Simple Swaps Part 1


Lesson Info

Shooting for Composite

no this is shooting for the composite so this is taking images that that I wanted to create that I went through those steps of what needs to happen to create these images and so for this one I did something very important to be able to create this image what I did to create this image is something that I would not have thought of two years ago it was something that I've only recently started thinking about that's the detail of how um the angle of objects look in the camera so what I mean by that is if you see back here where the neck is if I had just photographed myself in a dress and then put some flowers coming up and out what's going to happen the camera is seeing an angle of that dress where my neck is blocking the back of the dress therefore if I try to erase it I would just have to erase the whole back of the dress out and then you just have nothing this back there I'll show you what I mean in a second that's my picture so that was that was the before picture here and but I there...

's a black dot on my face in case you think I have some sort of like l'm until may face just a black dot I took this picture and you can see that you can't see the back of that neck it's not there at the moment and as I was shooting I realized I would have to photograph the dress so that's what I ended up doing so that's how it would have looked if I had erased my neck without the dress I could have put a whole bunch of flowers in there so you didn't see the back of the dress or something like that but it looked a little bit too one dimensional to me like that so then I pop the back of a dress on and I just held the dress up and then photographed the back rim of that dress it was pretty simple to do except it kept flopping but that's another story and then I started adding in the roses so I had this one dried rose I thought it was beautiful photographed it right there right where everything else was photographed I started teo throw them on the ground and then I noticed that one of them had some motion bored so I went in and photoshopped and really enhance it's a motion blur a little bit toe adds emotion to it and then that was it and so for me what makes this picture is the back of that dress I don't even look at it anymore and I'm like no roses that's cool and like oh I'm so glad I remember to do the back about dress okay so now we have this image which was really one of the more fun images that I did this year it was a really great experience of I went to the sand dunes I was not intending on shooting really I was with my husband and I was just meant to have a really nice relaxing evening but of course no photographer could do that in the world so instead I started saying well I do have this photo idea that I want to dio and that's when we started creating this image my husband helped me a lot on this picture I said to him I need to have a waterfall of sand and of course we both kind of like how does that happen how does somebody create a waterfall of sand so I'm going to tell you what I think works about this picture and what I think might not work so well what I think works is that the sand is moving and that it was shot at the same angle as the subject so therefore it matches up really nicely so it can fall what doesn't work as well is that I had to shoot the sand very close up therefore the grains of sand are very very large in this image now I did something to counter act that which was teo soften that picture of the sand that way the grain isn't so so much it didn't stand out so much therefore it blended into a little bit of a smoother edge however that's something that I don't really know how to get around unless you want to create a giant waterfall of sand call me when you d'oh so I shot that technically my husband did I told him squat here take the picture so he did and then we have this step and this was created from a footstep in the sand we were walking and we stepped pulled foot out and then all of a sudden we noticed that it was a straight wall and so I got down really really low to shoot that so then I was level with the the upper rim when then I had my husband just pushed the stand lightly over the edge so that it was falling and that ended up coming together really well in photo shop just but popped right on there so that was a really nice surprise I ended up blurring this a little bit in the foreground because the stand in the foreground of the picture of me was out of focus just naturally added a sky in and the sky was a little bit different because I inverted the sky and did that for a number of reasons one being that who likes to blend a dark sky into a light piece of sand so I didn't do that so instead of doing that I inverted it's in the lightest part was a strip right along the white part of a sand much much easier to blend the other reason why did that though is because this light strip of sky here that makes the I go to the subject because the lightest part is in the center of the frame so these are things that I didn't have to think about when I was shooting I wasn't thinking I'm going to invert a skye I was just thinking gotta find the right sky and I want to draw attention to the subject so I sort of shading it when started changing the light now this is an instance where changing the lighting dynamics actually works so it works because I now have light coming from over here and I can change that on my subject so I could just go ahead and sort of lasso my body here right on this rim and then I can brighten that up and that makes it look like the whites coming and the reason why I think it's doable in this images because everything was overcast lighting really even really neutral light okay and then we get to the final step here where I've just added some texture and we'll talk about that during editing so photographing the sand at the correct angle with motion was I think the kicker here what that's what made it come together and everything else wass easy peasy for that one then we have some simple swamps and this is what we're going to be talking about later now this image over here was created from this one over here again you could argue that this was laziness and that I cut my foot off in I didn't really have to do that good just taken another step but you have self portrait was hard sometimes so let's just cut me a break so I went ahead and this is how I shot this image so we have that that's my frame I have my body is going to stay pretty much in that spot but then I'm going to add lots of darkness over here to the other side there's my little foot that popped on there I went and I checked this image when I shot it so when it looked like that I saw it in camera and I said that's the best one that I have my foot's cut off so I just well it went like that took a picture of my foot so I added that on then we've got a third leg there is you can see coming right out of the crotch of the movement but uh so we got that that bad got to get rid of the other leg at some point and then obviously I have my remote in that hand so that can't happen so I'm going to fix that there yes this is my favorite picture just like that and at this point I knew that I had the body shape that I needed I knew that that was all well and good but I had to get rid of my extra limbs so I just painted because I'm not into fancy things I'm into the paintbrush tool south radio is painted it and yeah are you choosing those locations because of the lighting because of the lighting and because of the background so if I take just a step back you can see how dark it is over here already and I can just sample from that kind of paint around and with contrast and curves aiken really pull it down a lot more so that's why and then also I shot this at like two p m so the sun was bright high in the sky but I could shoot an overcast lighting essentially by doing that it's great because the light filters in from the front which is really nice for things like contouring a body and a face and stuff like that so it was kind of like nicely falling off into darkness okay uh that's my thinning technicolor that dresses away too big for me so we had to tuck that in and then I start to build the actual image the reason why I with this picture which was to add the flowers in you can see all those flowers popping on I shot them at the same location many many different angles just moving the flowers around all different positions and then I added the shadows you can see that step there biff I go back and forth a couple times it makes a really big difference if you add shadow in or not that's what I think the main part of compositing is do the shadows look right if they don't then somebody is going to look at that image and say no I don't believe it at all okay so I kept darkening and changing the color making it really cohesive for myself and then finishing here I believe

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Logic Checklist
Must Have Shots
Favorite Photoshop Tools
Lighting Effects
Practice Files - Cutting out Hair from Background
Practice Files - Building a Dress
Practice Files - Swapping Hand
Practice Files - Levitation
Adorama Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Logan Fox

I'm so thrilled to have come across this course and to have been introduced to Brooke Shaden. As a bit of background I do photography as a hobby, and always had an appetite to composite my work. It's only after watching this course that I can finally put a name to a craft that I love, that being 'fine art photography'. Through my own personal journey I've read various books, followed online tutorials both paid and free. When I came across this course I did hesitate. I wondered 'is it going to teach me anything new'... 'would the standard of the course be up to scratch'. Well, I can honestly say with hand on heart that this is by far is one of the best courses I've come across to date. As a solo photographer myself I've found it difficult at times to be both photographer and subject at the same time. From the outset what became clear was that Brooke is just like me in this respect which made the course so 'relevant' to what I do. Brooke shows throughout the course what can be achieved with a little planning and some creative approaches to situations that can be difficult to pull off when on your own. She is such a joy to watch and listen to, I loved her sense of humor and great how the audience were involved in some of the shoots. All I can say is, if you're in to photography and interested in compositing your work, you should give this a go, you wont regret it!


I'd like to show my gratitude and gratefulness to Ms Shaden and other wonderful people at CreativeLIVE for sharing your vast knowledge without making a fuss. Not everybody has a super computer and a top-notch camera, not everyone has a studio to work in and not everyone needs to know everything as perfectly as some instructors and professionals do. I, for one, have gained so much insight and have been intrigued by Ms Shaden's present and past lessons, she makes the most difficult and surreal subjects unfold so easily and effortlessly. Ms Shaden has made me believe no matter where I be and no matter what i have, as long as i have a good story to tell, and the right vision, I should be able to handle it with a working camera and any version of Photoshop. Unlike many other instructors who kill us every 5 minutes to buy their flashes or gear and support this or that company and agency, Ms Shaden has spent the whole time teaching and teaching and teaching and I am sorry I cannot be there to thank you in person, but you, Ms Shaden, are awesome and nobody can unawesome you :)


I have been a huge fan of Brooke's work since the beginning of the flickr days. I'm so excited to see her in her element on CL. So many years ago i was so very interested in learning and creating and CL makes this possible now. A lot of my work has been inspired by Brooke's dark yet beautiful work style and i am super inspired to create some using her advice. I cannot wait to delve deeper into this world i have been waiting so long to indulge in it and now i will even more so than i have the last 3 years. Thank you Brooke and CL ! =) Sarina Gito Photography (

Student Work