Saturday, January 1, 2011

Creating a montage

Welcome to my new blog!

I am a 27 year old photographer living in Brisbane, Australia. I specialise in conceptual photography and fine art portraiture, and I occasionally take on small commercial assignments.

Credits / Lexi Carlin: Model / Mel Rossall: Makeup/Hair

I started taking photos in 2008 and I am self-taught. I find the editing side of photography the least challenging part as I am a trained graphic designer. Most of my life I have lived on a large forest-covered property and this was part of the inspiration for my style of imagery, as well as old paintings, nature and the human form.

In this blog, I will share my views on photography and Photoshop, plus I will provide tutorials to show how I create particular images.

I definitely wanted my first entry to be a tutorial, so now I will describe how I created my latest image.

This image is a result of blending four separate photos together in Photoshop using multiple layers. It was shot in my studio. It's pretty home-made but it works. Here is a picture:

I've got 2 x 300W studio flashes. They emit a white light and you can adjust the intensity. I also have some umbrellas that you use instead of that diffuser in the back left. The diffuser is usually better though, because it softens and disperses the light better than an umbrella.

For this particular photo I only used one light, and it was basically in the same position as the back left one in the photo above. Here is a diagram showing the studio setup, viewed from above:

Having the light reflecting off the backdrop gives a backlit effect and softens the light. Most of the subject, including the face, is in shadow. Flowing, translucent fabric looks good in this kind of light as it is gently illuminated. If you don't have studio lights you could try using a really bright normal light.

I took about 50 different shots in various, random poses with the intention of blending them together afterwards. In the end I cropped out the top part of the bodies as I preferred the composition. These are original full versions the four that I picked out:

I'll just cover the basics about how to blend the photos in Photoshop, I might go into more detail on that in another tutorial in the future. The blend the layers together, you expand your canvas and place each image in the same document. To position the different layers you can put them on 50% opacity and move them around so they are nicely positioned before you continue. Then you can erase out certain parts of each layer using a layer mask, so that they blend together. To start masking, put a layer mask onto one of the layers, which you can do in the Layers panel.

The picture above shows the blending started on the first layer. You can see the black area on the mask in the Layers panel which is the part which has been erased.

Use the Brush tool to paint the layer mask. To completely blend out the straight edges of the photo, I use a soft-edged brush of around 300 pixels diameter at 100% opacity and flow. Then to blend the more specific areas out you can reduce the opacity to around 5 or 10 % and keep brushing over, changing the diameter to suit the area. If you make a mistake and want to un-erase a certain part, you can paint white onto the layer mask. Black areas are not shown, white parts are.

In the picture above you can see in the Layers panel that I've masked on areas in all four layers. Then I extended the background by selecting and stretching the lower blank part of the image down to fill the empty space. I heavily cropped the image next to get a composition I was happy with:

Then I colour corrected using two adjustment layers, both Selective Colour:

These are the settings I used in the selective colour adjustment layers. I adjusted the red, magenta, neutrals, and blacks channels, but depending on the image the settings will always be different of course:

Then I added four different textures over different parts of the image to get the finished result. I will go more into detail on textures another time.

So that's it! I hope this has been useful to you, all feedback is welcome.

Thanks for reading and I shall have a new post out soon.

Happy new year all!



  1. Thanks Rebecca, been looking out for this,it is very generous of you :-)

  2. Finally! Great work Becca. Really good explanation, it will be very useful!