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1 Sep 2014

The Art of Creative Composites

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The Art of Creative Composites

Photographic composites are not a recent invention or the sole product of Photoshop and other blending software. In the late 1800’s, photographers successfully experimented with compositing various exposures of the same scene so that they could render the brighter sky to match the lower horizon’s shadow exposure, and in some cases combined images though two or more exposures to achieve a different or broader tonal ranges (this is not a multiple exposure technique). It was a clumsy and imprecise process and thankfully, we have extraordinary control over the composite workflow today with Photoshop and other tools.

Image composites allow visual artists to create works that have much in common with painting. In most cases, we photographers tend to exclude elements either in the viewfinder or during postproduction. However, other artists, such as painters and illustrators, begin with an empty canvas and add every element as their needs and imagination determine. Combining and arranging these elements with unified color, tonal range, a textural palette unites the various elements into a single image that is beyond the sum of its parts; it is a multiplier of emotional range and artistic intention.

Compositing overcomes reality, but it does not eliminate authenticity. Sometimes it is as simple as adding another piece of information when creating a commercial ad layout or it may become an involved surreal, abstract, or objective reality work of art. Of course, there are many composite theories, but the baseline is this: As a visual artist, the composite, as well as your non-composite creations, demand that you see, as opposed to looking, that you portray emotions honestly, and be open to exploration.

I teach a creative compositing class where we stress visual planning, outcome thinking, image design, techniques employing the camera, and Photoshop. In class, new learners to this art form explore several projects and iterations and I stress the issues and how to use tools and techniques to cure the most issues that most students find vexing: how to avoid that ‘pasted in’ look, unifying light, color and tone, element selection, and planning,

Join me on September 19-20 for 2 full days of class, but please register today, as this is a small class and seats fill fast.