Today I thought I’d give you a little look into what went into making one of my recent pictures: Tom the Farmer
Now ideally I would have liked to photograph Tom against a grey seamless but as this started out as an ‘on location shoot’ I hadn’t intended to do any composite images, and to be honest it wasn’t necessary. You see I knew that I didn’t want to add a solid wall or something like that behind him so I wouldn’t be using the Soft Light or Overlay Blend Modes to drop the background in. For this picture I knew I’d have to cut Tom out so all I needed to find was a plain(ish) wall to photograph him against.
Choosing the right kind of background to shoot someone against and later cut them out is pretty easy; you just need to make sure of a few of things:
- It’s not the same colour as what you’re subject is wearing
- It’s not got any fancy pattern/texture on it
- It’s not in direct sunlight
Making sure that the background isn’t the same colour as what you’re subject’s wearing and also that the background doesn’t have fancy pattern/texture on it is purely to help with the cutting out later. Making sure the background isn’t in direct sunlight is because when it comes to putting composite images together, you want to be the one dictating how and where the light hits your subject…does that make sense?
Anyway here’s a look at the wall that we ended up using which was just inside one of Tom’s barns:
As for the kit, I was using an Elinchrom Quadra with both heads attached to the one battery pack. The rear/side light was a Lastolite Hot Rod Strip Box; great pieces of kit that were originally designed for Speedlights but now you can get adaptors to use them with a variety of other lighting kits. The front/fill light was an Elinchrom Medium softbox…nothing fancy
I wasn’t 100% sure what kind of background I was going to put in behind Tom for the final picture so I ended up strolling around his farm taking shots of all kinds of things; didn’t end up using them but they’ll come in great for pictures in the future I’m sure.
The background I eventually opted for was from a few shots I took when my wife and I popped out for a stroll just down from where we live. Now I’m not a big user of HDR but the background is actually 3 bracketed shots all combined using Photomatix and pretty much using the default settings. As for the sky I added that in afterwards and that was just made up of a few shots, again that I took out on the walk. Incidentally I’m always taking photographs of the sky when I’m out and about to build up a library that I can turn to later.
Tip: If you’re photographing the sky to build up a library to use later in composites, try to take photographs aiming out towards the horizon as opposed to pointing your camera directly above you. Clouds will appear smaller the further away they get so if you photograph them directly above you, they just won’t look right. Sure that can be fixed in Photoshop but by just taking your sky photos out toward the horizon saves you having to do that later…does that make sense? Maybe I should record a short video showing what I mean?
Once I had all the images, it was then a case of putting it all together in Photoshop, and as I wanted this to have a kind of cartoony/fun feel to it I ended up increasing the size of Tom’s head just a little, giving him a bit of smile and then adding the cartoon effect:
And that’s Tom the Farmer. You can check out a larger version over on my 500px page here [Link]
I did take a few more shots of Tom around the farm; one of which was the one I included in the recent post on the Invisible Black Backdrop [Link], so if you have any questions or comments then please as always feel free to make use of the comments section below,
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