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The secret to successful composite photography - part 2 - part 1 of 1 2 3

by George Fairbairn Published 02/02/2015

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Making the Impossible, Possible
Part 2: Editing - Making it all come together

Before we delve into the editing of a composite image, if you haven't read Part 1 (planning and shooting) which appeared in the October- November 2014 Issue (Issue 75), I highly recommend you read that article first.

Cutting Out
Cutting your subjects out is the hardest part of creating a successful composite image. But, if you have shot your subject on a clean background it's easier than you may think, and if you shot your subject on a grey background it can be even easier!

Back in the olden days (pre Photoshop CS4!), cutting out was a laborious task; yes the quick selection tool was there, but frankly it wasn't terribly good. This meant that you had to either learn the tricks of the quick selection tool, resort to the pen tool (soooooo long!) or use complex cutting out methods such as using channels.


Since CS4 was launched, the quick selection tool can be one of a composite photographer's most powerful tools. The Quick Selection tool is located under your Magic Wand (see image 1). This can also be accessed by keyboard shortcut W. If hitting W brings up the Magic Wand, simply hold down Shift and hit W again.

Top Tip: Holding down the shift key when using key board shortcuts in Photoshop will toggle between all the tools assigned to that key. Once you have the Quick Selection tool selected, it is simply a matter of 'painting' what you want to select. By default the Quick Selection tool is set to 'add' to your selection. Wherever you paint is added to your selection. The Quick Selection tool does a pretty good job of finding the edges of your subject. It does this by detecting contrast, which is why a clean background is vital. Having your subjects in clothing that is a different colour to your background also helps, and one of the many reasons why using a grey background helps as well. I don't recommend using green or blue screens, but that is a subject for another day.


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