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What's Wrong With This Photo?

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Old 07-14-2012, 08:26 AM
Restret Restret is offline
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What's Wrong With This Photo?

This is a composite photo of a man in front of a nature scene, but it doesn't look real. What can be changed to improve the believability?

(The face is pixelated to protect the innocent

Thank you.
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Old 07-14-2012, 09:03 AM
Tony W's Avatar
Tony W Tony W is online now
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Re: What's Wrong With This Photo?

Well, you did ask so fwiw:

A very quick look, it is obvious that cut and paste have been attempted.

One of the most jarring things for me is the difference in lighting between the background and foreground images. Background lighting looks to be from top back the image of the man is from high left (image left). Therefore the shadows are not really believable and would need attention to eliminate on the t shirt and reduce the size and shape on the neck etc. Also lighten up the mans left cheek to balance the shadow.

The left side of the image in particular where the shoulder and arm meet the background needs softening to hide the obvious line

The T shirt looks like it has just been painted on with a grey wash and does not look real.

Might be easier to find either a better background lit in the same way as the man or an image of the man in similar lighting conditions.
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Old 07-14-2012, 07:48 PM
grossmisconduct grossmisconduct is offline
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Re: What's Wrong With This Photo?

Heres some additional tips and comments:

First of all I am assuming you stillhave a layered file
Second I do not know if you have only masked out your background, or if you have cut out your foreground and put it over another background, but anyhow you should be able to adapt to my comments. I will assume you have masked out you background.

First of all you need to fix your mask, especially up on the left side like Tony mentioned. This can be done the hard way with zoom and a brush on the mask or smudge tool on your layer.
A faster way would be using the mask edge option:
1 Before opening the mask edge panel save a snapshot of your current state in your history
2 click your mask
3 click mask edge up in the masks panel
4 The mask edge refining window should pop up
5 In this case I would only use the shift edge slider a little untill you upper left area looks good and then click OK
6 Because your mask wasnt even you will probably have masked away too much around the rest of the person now. This you can fix with the history brush. just mark that snapshot you made as a source and paint away with a big brush on the areas that were good in the first place, avoiding the upper left area you fixed.
7 Now open up the mask edge panel again and put on 1-2 pixel of feather and click ok.
8 Now as a finish you might want to fix a little on his hair also. Make a new snapshot in your history and open mask edge panel again. Use the radius slider untill it looks good. You may also want to use the contrast slider and the shift edge slide just a little together with the radius slider. Click ok
9 Use your history brush again now with your new snapshot as source and paint over the body which probably will have some bad edges now.

Now there is the problem with the lighting. Thats a bigger problem and if youd want it to be perfect youd be better off with another background. That said ive seen many outdoor flash photos with off angle lighting. You can see its lit with flash and its not good lighting or preferable, at least not in a traditional sense, but they still dont look like cut and paste composites.
I would try toning down the shadows on your person with a curves adjustment layer though.
1 open up a curves adjustment layer
2 click that finger on the top left side of your curve
3 now click on the shadow and drag upwards to lighten. You may need to make some anchors on the curve by clicking over and under that little point that you just made on the actual curve
4 now you can keep using the finger tool on differnt places with different levels of shadow.
5 As the light seems to be almost directly from above I would try to lighten his hair with a new curves layer. This time globaly lighten by dragging the curve up then invert the mask and paint white with a soft low opacity brush on the mask over his hair
6 Now you could paint in new shadows by painting on the mask of a darkening curves layer. But its hard to make it belivable

You may also want to darken the highlights of the background as the exposure and contrast seem to differ from your person.

As a finish you should try to make a color cast over the person. This seems to be commonly done with the average filter under filter-blur-average. Make a copy of your background layer and put it over your composite layer (the person). Use the average filter. Now you can either just lower the opacity here to around 15-20% and maybe set the layer to color or hue mode, or you can use the color with inner glow or color fill in your layer effects panel. For the inner glow to work you would need to have your person on his own layer. Try Using color or hue or even multiply on your inner glow

Im not going to go into how to change colors because there are lot of good tutorials out there on this, and honestly I havent done that sort of thing for a long time, but the shirt and the shorts really need to be fixed

Personally I also think you overdid the blur on his arms and hands..

I would recomend Matt Kloskowskis Photoshop for a start, then
there are some good shows on masking in the video section here on RetouchPro. Chris Tarantino has a couple on masking and calculations, and I think Calvin Hollywood has one also.
Theres also an interesting thread going on now about the subject here
There seems to be some good shows on compositing on also, but I havent actually watched the composit shows and therefore cant guaranty for their quality

Hope this could be of help

Last edited by grossmisconduct; 07-14-2012 at 07:56 PM.
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Old 07-14-2012, 08:09 PM
Restret Restret is offline
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Re: What's Wrong With This Photo?

Thank you very much, Tony W and grossmisconduct! Your ideas have been very helpful.
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Old 07-15-2012, 01:43 AM
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Repairman Repairman is offline
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Re: What's Wrong With This Photo?

All the above but also pay attention to focus levels and matching grain structures. You don't want the background to be sharper or more contrasty than the model.
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Old 07-16-2012, 01:27 AM
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dataflow dataflow is offline
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Re: What's Wrong With This Photo?

also you need some blur around the edge of the man.(1 or 2 pixels around the edge)
so the edges blend in with the BG
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Old 07-16-2012, 07:15 AM
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Digital Tofu Digital Tofu is offline
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Re: What's Wrong With This Photo?

The background is sharper than the man. I would probably try using an unsharp mask on the man and possibly blurring the background slightly on top of the good feedback that the people above mentioned.
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