GIRAFFES ON GRASSLAND: New Picture PLUS Behind the Scenes

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: May 9, 2014

Category: General

Hey Folks,

Thanks for stopping by today.

I thought I’d finish the week off by giving you a look at a new picture AND go through a little bit of what went into putting it all together…

Ok so this picture is another in my Personal Project I’m working on where I’m photographing animals in captivity i.e. Wildlife Parks, Zoos etc and then using Photoshop create scenes putting them back out into the Wild where they should be.

Check out a larger version over in my 500px portfolio [here]

I mentioned in an earlier post where I showed the Behind the Scenes for my recent White Rhino picture, that this will be form part of a body of work of approximately 20 – 25 pictures of animals BIG or small by the end of 2014. When I get to having made that many pictures then my intention is to create a coffee table style book with them all in PLUS put on an Exhibition. One thing I am looking into is how eventually the pictures could possibly be used to raise funds for Animal Welfare, Conservation etc and that’s something I’ll be looking into over the coming weeks / months.

Ok so here’s the pictures that I photographed for this picture; the Giraffes at Woburn Safari Park, UK and the fields and sky being a few minutes from my front door.

The Giraffes were photographed before anything else as I didn’t really know what picture I was going to end up with. I talk a lot about planning and preparing so that you know the kind of picture you want to create but this animal project is having a slightly different twist on it because the animals aren’t going to be posing…they’re just going to be doing there thing. So with this series what I’m doing is knowing a rough idea of what I want to do i.e. Giraffes in a field of long grass but it’s the resulting photographs I get when out at the Safari Parks that decides the final direct, mood, feel; does that make sense?

When it comes to taking the photographs for this series, I’m using a 200mm lens although most times the animals are so close 70mm is more than enough, and I’m shooting around the f/8.0 – f/11.0 mark so that every part of the animal is in focus which important because during the retouching I’m going to be cutting them off the background and placing into a new scene.

As the Giraffes were photographed from being sat in my car, and in order for everything to composite better in the final picture, that was roughly the same height I photographed the field and then the sky:

So as to help with the authenticity, again this time I made use of stock image sites to get pictures of things that would be seen in Africa and that I can’t photograph here in the UK:

I wanted to use an adult and infant Giraffe in this picture and luckily the herd at Woburn is rather large so there are all ages and sizes but just having the adult and infant next to each other didn’t seem enough. So to help change the mood of the picture I changed the angle of the infant’s head a little so it appeared to be looking up more toward the adult and created more of a connection between them:

I think it’s fair to say that a lot of tutorials out on the inter web showing how to make selections and cutting something off a background, tend to use backgrounds that are quite simplistic; in cases like those tools like Photoshop’s Quick Selection can work great, and as the name suggests…Quickly. However in this instance cutting the Giraffe’s off their original backgrounds called for a few techniques to be combined namely the Pen Tool to make the initial selection / cut out and then Channels, Levels, Brushes and Layer Masks to cut out and combine the other parts such as the tail and mane.

If you haven’t seen it already here’s a video I recorded showing how to use the Pen Tool:

Once cut off their original backgrounds, the Giraffe’s were being placed into the new scene which then would have them standing in long grass and here’s an episode of my weekly podcast / show that gives you an idea as to how that is done (the part in the video to look for is when I’m cutting out the zebra):

So there you go, a look Behind the Scenes at how I Photographed and then a bit of how I made the final picture in Photoshop; hope it was useful.

I mentioned before that with regards to the work done in Photoshop combining everything together, adding the shadows, the lighting, colouring, selections and cut outs, adding in new sky and horizon etc I’m going to be recording a full length tutorial going through the retouch of my recent WHITE RHINO picture and that will include the original RAW files and assets to that you too can go through each step as opposed to just watching; I aim to have it in the web store and available in the next few days.

Right that’s all from me for now so whatever you’re up to this weekend have a good one and I’ll catch you back here in a few days.


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  1. Michael Butcher

    I love these animal composites, Glyn. Hope you have great success raising money for wildlife conservation God knows we need it.

    • Glyn

      Cheers Michael

  2. Suman Zaman

    The elephant one is my favourite but I love them all. excellent work again Mr Dewis! Have you thought about found a full ‘start-to-finish’ video tutorial? Naturally I am asking for my own selfish reasons!
    Thanks for sharing matey.

    • Glyn

      Thanks Suman and yeah absolutely re the tutorial…watch this space 🙂

  3. Will

    thoroughly enjoyed this one matey and such a beautiful idea

    • Glyn

      Thanks Buddy 🙂

  4. Rajesh Taylor

    Really nice composite image Glyn. I like the story between the two giraffes. It must be easy to over complicate a composite piece. This is so peaceful. Good luck with the 20-25 project. I’d love to see this up in an exhibition. Coffee table book is also a great idea too.

    • Glyn

      Thanks Rajesh 🙂


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