Skip to main content

Photographing Hair in Motion

Lesson 10 from: Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World

Karen Alsop

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

10. Photographing Hair in Motion

Lesson Info

Photographing Hair in Motion

When I create motion one of the ways I do it is to have a fan and so we've got a fan here. You might not have a fan but you might have a reflector or something that you can cause wind to sort of bring up the hair. There's a bit of a trick to that whole technique as well. It's on the up movement to get the wind but you can also drop hair back and take photos of hair and then add it on. So we're actually gonna do all of those processes and probably use different shots and bring them together in Photoshop later on. The other thing I wanna do is I really do wanna try and get as much as I can in this one shot. So we've done a few shots already with Evie running on the spot but I want to try and get it with the fan going, looking at the white rabbit and the hair going back because then it's less work later on in Photoshop but we will probably need to add some hair and add some motion to that. So as much as we can do in camera we do and then we've got the option to do more later. So let's tur...

n the fan on. (laughs) Cool you down. That's awesome, alright. We're gonna get some nice movement in the dress which we want as well. Can we direct it up? A little bit, yep. That's it, okay. So because the hair is behind, we're not gonna get as much movement with the hair but we'll probably get some nice movement in the dress. Let's concentrate firstly on the dress. Concentrate firstly on the dress. Yeah, no that's good. Where you had it there. Yeah that's good. So we're getting a bit of the dress, a bit of the hair. The only thing we don't want is this to flip up too much. So, to alleviate that we actually might need to put the fan up on something a bit higher so that the wind is directing down and not bringing that dress up too much. So we'll get something for that. How you feel, good? Nice and cool? (laughs) Alright so we'll get some height. Okay, let's see how this looks. So we'll bring. Higher? Yeah, yeah we'll bring the fan directed, we'll direct the fan at Evie. Alright. So pointing at her, yep. There we go. Bit higher. That's it. Let's try some shots. We'll turn it up for the photos. Get lots of wind. Yeah, awesome. Alright, are you ready? Here we go. One, two, three run. (footsteps patter) And stop, that was good. There was lots more movement there. There still wasn't as much as I want out of the hair there. So that's where we're going to do it a couple of separate shots. Let's have a look at what we've got. We can switch that off for a moment. It's really cute. Okay, so going through. That's a really cute one. I'll bring that in, see how that looks and have a look at what else do I want. What else do I want to do? Do I want a different look? So cropping in. Edit in, open as a smart object in Photoshop. Now I did something wrong here. Does anyone know what it was? You went higher. Excellent, see again I got lost in the moment I went back to my natural shooting angle and I was higher than I needed be. I should've been down here. So good spotting, well done. So I won't be able to use this image in it because it won't match the perspective but I think it's important that we pick that out. Yeah. For fluffing the hair, I use it all the time with my teens. Sometimes it's much better grabbing the hair. One, two, three and flow. Absolutely and we're about to do that. (laughs) Yep. So getting some of the natural movement in the hair from a fan and then we can drop the hair, drop the dress, we can lift it up and yeah we've got a few different ways to do it. So that's yep, definitely a good way to do. So we'll do it again but we'll just, we'll just have a look how this actually looks in the scene. Even though it's not right. Just to see how you, so you understand where, why it's wrong. So shrinking it down. Okay, back to 'bout that size. I'll turn off the other one. Okay, so I was shooting with the horizon through Edie's head there. So this is where she should be placed in the scene if that was, if I'd been shooting it correctly. That's where I need her. So I need to come down lower. So it's a subtle difference but I think as you start to really practice and you know, do your own images you start to realize the difference that it does make. She looks like she's leaning forward in that. So I've done another image recently where it's a Peter Pan image. To get them to fly or look like they were floating I actually stood up really high on a step ladder and shot down on them and that actually made it look like when I put them in the scene in a different perspective like they're floating. So you can actually use these as tricks to make people fly, or to make them to different things. So it's not just about getting the correct perspective. Sometimes it's about distorting that perspective on purpose. So let's get it right this time hey? Let's shoot again. I'm going to get down low. We'll get the fan going. We'll do the main shot and then we'll have Evie stand in about the same position and we'll drop the hair and we'll maybe fan it up with a reflector as well. We'll see which works best. Okay I'll put Lightroom back on so you can see the shots coming through. Okay. You ready? And one, two, three. (footsteps patter) Happy, little bit happy, little bit happy, moving back onto the square. That's it, you can even start further back. Where the shadow is, on the ground and I'll get you to run forward so just moving forward a bit by bit so you end up on the square. Yep, so when I say go. So come back, go back further. Yep that's it. Ready and one, two, three. And running slightly forward to the square. That's it, coming closer to the square. And on the count of three, I'll get you to start back there. I actually want you really to run to this square or to this cross. So go right back to the back. Yep, around there. Right back to where the, to the line. Back to the, back, back, back, back, back. That's it. Alright, on the count of three I want you really to run to that spot okay? Are you ready? But looking at the teddy bear. Alright. One, two, three. (footsteps patter) Alright, what I'm going to do here I will get her to do it again. I'm going to pre focus on Evie. I use back button focus on my camera. It helps in that I can pre focus and then when I press the shutter button it doesn't refocus for me. So there's no focus happening on the shutter button. I'm focusing with a back button here. So you can set that up on your cameras. So what I'm gonna do now is pre focus on where she is standing on the cross. Get her to run towards me and then shoot when she gets to that spot. Okay so here we go. So I'll pre focus, so you stand on the cross. That's it. So I'm pre focused, I'm ready to shoot. So going back to the back. Right back, right back, right back. That's it and on a count of three run towards the cross but looking at the bunny rabbit. Ready, one, two, three. (camera clicks) Little bit of a smile. Little bit of a, "What's going on? "What's that rabbit doing?" Okay, further back we'll do that again. So moving back, back, back, back, back, back. Okay, are you ready? One, two, three. (camera clicks) Using your arms a little bit more, running on the spot. That's the way. (footsteps patter) Little further back. That's it. Okay, pause there. Just freeze there that's the way. Face this way slightly. So what I want here. So I want you to stand on the cross. That's it, yep. Just there, that's the way. I think I've got a shot from that pack of shots that I just took. I'll have a look through but then I wanna do the drop of the hair and we're going to try fluffing it up with the fan as well. So let's review what we've got here. So they're coming through slowly. I am bringing the raws straight in. So I am tethering the raws so. Once I shoot off quite a few in a row it does slow up on the processing. But the reason that I do that, you can actually tether JPEGs and you can just bring in the lower quality raws or the JPEGs. Because quite often I'm working straight away on an image I like to just bring my raws straight in because it means I can start working and not have to reimport later and change things around. That's just my workflow but you can bring in those JPEGs in it, will transfer a whole lot more quickly. Okay. So a few cute ones there. So I'm looking at the feet. I'm looking at the hands. I'm looking at the face. I'm looking for a favorite shot from all of that. And as I said, it may be that we end up using a couple of shots. And it's the same thing with when you're photographing portraits and you've got a group of people and you wanna head swap because one person is not smiling at the same time as the other people and if you photograph groups and you photograph portraits what you can do, the easy thing to do is just take a number of shots in the one spot. Try not to move and then you've got that option of head swapping later. I do it quite often for my portrait sessions it's just 'specially when you're working with kids I'll quite often, when you're working with kids and you've got the parents trying to get them to smile it's the parents that are looking in the wrong direction and the kids are smiling. So having those multiple shots and then head swapping really gives you the opportunity to give them that perfect image to finish with. Okay. So see this shot here, it's cute. But we're missing a leg. (laughs) 'Cause it was back. So that's why you wanna take quite a few shots until you kinda get that perfect one. That one's got a lotta motion. I really like that but it's sort of hiding the face. (laughs) So I'm looking for motion. This one will fit too far back there. That was a cute one but that was at the wrong angle so. So I like the smile. That's cute, but the hand's sort of missing behind. So I'm not even sure, we may need to re-shoot. What I really liked Evie was I'll show you this one. I really like that little smile there. So I think I wanna keep shooting with the fan and get that little, get you to smile at the rabbit 'cause that's really cute. So we'll do a few more shots so we can get that nice little smile. And yeah, alright. So do you wanna have practice while we set up the fan? Ready, one, two, three. On the spot and looking at the rabbit and nice little smile. That's the way. Okay, I'll take a few more shots. I need to be down here. And big smile at the rabbit. Move back onto the cross. I know there's lots to think about isn't there. You're doing very well. We need a bit more wind in the hair. Point it at the hair. More, more, more, more, more. Bit higher. Oh, that's still going up here. Yep, whoa you need a right with that? Still going up. We almost need to pin it down don't we? We might pause and pin that if that's okay 'cause everything else is awesome except for that flap going up. So you know, often it's good to have in your studio clips, pins, things that you can tie back. We've actually adjusted this dress 'cause it was a bit big. So you don't have to have a perfect sized costume. You know you're not shooting the whole part of the costume you're only seeing the front. So you can adjust things as you need to. So we'll pin that down just so we'll stick it down so it doesn't fly up in the air and then we'll be able to get all the hair flying backwards which is what we want. Doing really well Evie, thank you. Okay, here we go. Good, ready? Okay, so moving back on to the cross. Excellent. Alright, ready? And as much wind in the hair as you can get. And looking at the rabbit and smiling. Moving back onto the cross. That's the way, looking at the rabbit. That's it. (laughs) What's the rabbit doing. You're doing so well. Big smile at the rabbit, that's it. (laughs) Well done. Back on the cross. Oh, so much to think about you're doing so well. Back on the cross, that's it. Back, back, back. That's it, that's it. That's it. Well done. Excellent work. Now lots of shots there. I'm sure we got something then. Okay so we'll review these. We'll see how the hair's going and what we need to add to that. Got a lot more wind in the hair now. 'Kay, as it's loading, 'cause now I've just shot off so many shots it's taking its time to load in. Were there any other questions at this point while it's loading up? Do you ever do a walkthrough with your subject before you actually do the shoot? So to get them into character? Yeah. Yeah sometimes. It depends on the subject and how comfortable they are with the camera. Quite often though I'm not actually necessarily getting them into the character. I'm more just getting them into whether they're smiling or laughing or happy or sad and that might be in a different way. So I don't have to walk through and say this is Alice in Wonderland and this is what's happening in the scene because just saying you know, "What's the rabbit doing? "What's going on? "You're doing so well." Just encouraging and getting little smiles here and there is enough to kinda capture that look. So it's about knowing what look you want from the character and then trying to achieve that in however it is that you do that you know. You might have little toys or different things that make kids laugh. So, yeah, very much dependent on the kid as well. Or the adult subject, which I've photographed quite a few adult subjects that we've needed to get into character as well. So, yeah okay. So, here we go. So you can see when she moves closer to the camera it does distort more because I'm on a slightly wide angle with my lens. So trying to keep the subject in the spot that you want can be challenging when they're a bit younger but that's why having a cross on the ground or something there to label where they're to stand really helps. If you don't have something on the ground, they're like, "Where do I stand?" And they're all over the place. Okay, so there's a few good ones here. They will take a little bit to load up too, being the raws. It's tough getting everything all you know. The ducks in the row or getting every single part to be how you want it. This one's cute. So sometimes when I'm going through Lightroom, I've got a whole a whole lot of images. I'll star them. And I've got a shortcut on my graphics tablet here which gives me one star. So I've increased the rating on the ones that I think are standing out and that way I can review and go back and choose out of those ones. So using Lightroom to sort through your images and work out which are the ones you're going to use is really helpful. It's one of the reasons I do this in Lightroom. So at the moment I've starred one so far that I quite like. I like the hair in this one as it's loading. But the face expression's all scrunched up. It's cute though. So I like the hair, so I'm actually gonna star that for the hair 'cause it's blown out and I might use that. That one's cute. I'm still not quite there with the running style here. So what I'm going to do now. It may or may not work but we're going to try just a frozen running style. So, having the wind blowing but having our Alice sort of on the spot in the position that I want. Usually you know if you've got that if you've got subject running you can capture the one you want but I'm finding that either the leg's not in the right spot or the arm's not in the right spot. We're not sort of getting everything how we want it. So what we'll do, yep. We'll get you to kind of freeze and I'll get the look that I want. So let's see where your feet are. Yep, one foot up's good. And just yeah running. So one arm back, that's it. One arm forward, the other arm forward. That's it. And you're looking this way. We want the wind in the hair. So we'll do that again. Perhaps we will use the other method for this one yeah. 'Cause I do have enough hair shots from the fan that I can I use if I want to. You can get closer if you need to. Alright that's it. So on the count of three, I'll get you to smile and look down at the rabbit. Are you ready? And arms back, arm back like that like you're in the middle of your running and one, two, three. One and I'll keep shooting when I see the wind gust. So you keep smiling for me Evie. If you need to go closer for the, yep that's it. Big smile for me, one, two, three. That's it. Open your eyes a little bit more for me. That's the way. And I've gotta shoot when the wind goes up in the hair. (camera clicks) Okay, now because she was frozen and she had a few different expressions there. If the hair's good in one and the face is good in another one I'm happy to blend that together 'cause she was in the same spot so it won't be hard. It's when they're in a different position that's much harder to blend that together. So I'll look through here. Doing very well. It's hard work being a model isn't it. So Karen. Just a quick question as these are coming through. This is from Ena B who says "That's so cool, such a cool class. "Thank you for showing us all the steps "that it takes to get the work that's so detailed. "Now that you're shooting more and more images "do you delete them all afterwards or do you keep them "for the just in case?" I'm kind of a just in case sort of person and I keep them all so yeah I've got a lot of hard drives and backups and yeah. I could probably delete them but you never know when you're gonna use them again. Okay. Let's have a look at this one. I'm looking for your beautiful smile. I think we had that back here somewhere. Here. I feel like we might need mom. So often I do this in the studio and I have the parent being the one that interacts with the child because I'm trying to get the shot. So if you're trying to get the shot you can't be the entertaining one and doing all that and then trying to nail that shot that you want. So you're going to need to get down real low. Yep, we'll do a bit more fanning. So, more running on the spot and mum's gonna get you with the really beautiful smile and laugh and yeah. I'm sure she can make you laugh hey? So run on the spot for me. That's the way. That's cute. That's very cute. We'll just bring that hair behind so that when it blows up it blows back. That's the way. Keep going. So move back onto the cross, that's the way. (laughs) (footsteps patter) Okay, freeze right where you are. Right on the spot, we're going to do a hair drop. So, standing on the cross for me. Yeah and Danielle if you can grab the hair from behind, up in the air and then just drop it on the count of three but just stand to side yep. Okay. One, two, three. Now that one too, I can zoom up on the hair and I can use that later and composite it in. So I'm going to zoom up and one, two, three. Alright, I'll check that. See that they're coming through still. Okay. So you can see the difference that it made to have someone there interacting with her and to get that expression. I'm pretty sure we nailed the expression in those shots. It also makes it easier for me to photograph because I'm not trying to do too many things at once. I'm just waiting for that moment to capture it. The other thing you can see is that this is why compositing is so powerful because I'm not, I'm needing to bring images together to get that perfect shot. So to get the hair up in the air and to get all of the aspects that I want I'm not limited to just one shot. So we've got the hair up like that. So that's pretty cool. And I can use that hair and add that on to her later on. We'll do a few more of those hair shots. Just so have a variety of different ones. The same position. Okay. And one, two, three. And again. And one, two, three. I didn't quite get it there but that's alright. One, two, three. Can we try it in two parts so it doesn't clump together as much? Sort of spread it out between your fingers. Yeah. One, two, three. Cool. Yeah that was good, we'll do that again. One, two, three, awesome.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

The Story Art Journey eBook
Planning a Composite Video Tutorial (Large download - 1.2gb)

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Photoshop Brushes
Photoshop Hair Brush

Ratings and Reviews

Judy Mitschelen

I've found many great instructors at CreativeLive and Karen ranks right up there at the top! With her relaxed, thoughtful manner of presenting, I was immediately hooked. Her organization, clear explanations and demonstration, and on target response to questions are superb. This course covers an amazing range of skills and tricks of the trade. Whether you're interested in getting better shots to work with, better workflow at the computer, or better output at the end, Karen covers it all.


Karen is very talented and a great teacher and I enjoyed every minute of the course. But what I found to be the best part was seeing what an amazing person she is. The video of compositing the disabled children to make their dreams come true had me in tears. It has inspired me to use my talents to help others and not learn photo manipulation for self enjoyment. God bless you Karen.

Endigo Rae

This was such an amazing class! Karen is so talented, inspiring, and such an amazing teacher. Very forthcoming and open about all of her techniques. I'm so looking forward to jumping into compositing, I feel like this is definitely something my soul desires to explore and Karen has made it so easy and accesible through her beautiful course! Thanks so much Karen and CreativeLive!

Student Work