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Preparation for an ambitious composite shoot!

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Old 11-10-2011, 05:23 AM
harryduns harryduns is offline
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Lightbulb Preparation for an ambitious composite shoot!

I have been asked by a friend to do a series of 4 seasonally-themed shots for a cycle shop. The idea is to put together four 'story' images of things happening - rough example might be a guy riding through the shop with people jumping out of his way.

This clearly calls for some compositing rather than shooting everything together - I have some experience of this but I think this is going to be another level entirely from what I've done before so I thought I'd drop by here and see if anyone has any advice please!

Obviously when this concept came to mind, my first thought was commercial composite work like... Dave Hill. From years of lurking I know his name is kind of taboo around here, so before you leap at me, I have no interest in mimicing his visual style - I'm fully aware of the kind of time and meticulous post work that goes into his images. I'm also aware his work involves huge budgets and lots of extra hands to help out (wardrobe, hair, makeup, etc etc)! There's no way I can afford all that and I'm trying to be realistic about what is achievable. What I'm more interested in is suggestions for preparation for shooting diverse elements for my final composition in a way that will make comping as easy as possible.

From my limited past experience, I am imagining that the easiest way might be to set my camera in a fixed location in the restaurant on a sturdy tripod, shoot the scene without the subjects in HDR, then introduce and individually light each element within the same framing - allowing me to then layer the different elements but with a unified background to start from. Probably easier than shooting the subjects on a plain backdrop in my studio and trying to get the perspectives etc working together, no?

I'd be eternally grateful to anyone who has done work in this vein who could chip in with any hints or tips! Again, I'm not interested in any particular post processing tips, more the technical side of framing and lighting multiple subjects for use in a final complex composite.

For what it's worth, you can see my portfolio here: Thanks in advance to anyone who can contribute their knowledge, I'll be most grateful!
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Old 11-10-2011, 02:25 PM
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Repairman Repairman is offline
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Re: Preparation for an ambitious composite shoot!

They must be very expensive bikes! I like your site and the content Harry.

Make sure you cover all the image crops that will be required further down the line; you don't want to be adding extra width or depth at a later date. In fact it helps to 'super glue' the camera in position and get the core shots sorted then (minus models) move back or rotate the camera to get extra left/right/top/bottom to cover such eventualities.

Last edited by Repairman; 11-11-2011 at 12:50 AM.
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Old 11-10-2011, 06:13 PM
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crimper crimper is offline
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Re: Preparation for an ambitious composite shoot!

AS for composites, its so much easier to assemble if the lighting style (ie Soft/Hard) for all elements is similar & from approx the same directionality.
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Old 11-10-2011, 08:22 PM
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CJ Swartz CJ Swartz is offline
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Re: Preparation for an ambitious composite shoot!

Hope you get some feedback from some experienced photogs here - but until then ...

Your work on your website looks great and looks like you have some experience in handling this look. I have no experience in this area. Joel Grimes (you may already be familiar with his work) does HDR backgrounds and lights his subjects to add them into the composite (Behind the Scenes - Joel Grimes [youtube]. I believe that he actually tries to handle the problem of the direction of light differently by wrapping the light around the subject so that they can seem to fit into a scene without the light being uni-directional. Another Grimes video (excellent but not specifically going to answer your questions - Composite Photography
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Old 11-11-2011, 03:15 AM
harryduns harryduns is offline
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Re: Preparation for an ambitious composite shoot!

Thanks for your input so far guys!

Yeah, Joel Grimes was a big influence of mine as I started out, though to be honest the more experience I get the more I see some flaws in his work, particularly problems with perspective - which is one reason I'm thinking about multiple shots with fixed camera position rather than trying to strip folk in afterwards from a plain background shoot elsewhere.

Also if I'm honest I'm not overly keen on trying to cut round loads of bike wheel spokes!!

crimper's point above about believable lighting is a crucial one, and highlights another problem I see in some of Grimes' work - his punchy, rear lit lighting scheme is great and works when there is an obvious bright light source behind the subject, but for me it isn't always believable. All the most convincing composite work I've seen has been where the photographer has clearly taken the natural light sources as a starting point and emphasised them for dramatic effect.
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