Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World CreativeLive Class Review

Yesterday I watched the class “Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World” on CreativeLive by Karen Alsop. It was AMAZING!! I had to share today to make sure that anyone who was interested could catch the second day of broadcasting which will be happening starting at 9am PST. If you are reading this after June 3rd you’ve missed the live broadcast, thankfully all CreativeLive classes are available for purchase for unlimited download, streaming, watching, etc. also as a special bonus if you buy this class Karen has included her custom brush set that she created just for compositing (a $45 value) as a free download.

Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World - CreativeLive class review| Smithsquad.com

The class started with Karen telling us a bit about herself and her work. She then showed a few time lapse videos of her process. She then quickly got into the meat of the class, how to create a composite. She gave some great insight into how to plan a composite and shoot images that would work together. In this class she is creating an Alice in Wonderland scene to teach the process. Before the class began she went to a garden local to her and shot tons of images of trees, bushes, hedges, paths, etc. She showed a time lapse video, and talked us through it, of how she  put these images together to create a fantastic background.

Now it was time to start shooting. Karen brought in a live rabbit and an adorable little girl to play Alice. She talked to us about how to choose a background to shoot on and how to light the scene to match the lighting in your finished composite. We then got to watch her shoot both subjects. As she was shooting she was quickly placing shots roughly into the scene to make sure that the photographs would work well together. She had to ensure that they faced the right way, looked the right direction, were shot from the correct angle etc. This part was a lot of fun. Karen was shooting with her camera tethered to her Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. This allowed her to instantly pull any image into her composite and play with it. The companion has definitely inched it’s way to the top of my wants list after watching her use it. If you are interested in learning more about the Cintiq read my post about Wacom tablets.

After Karen chose her favorite images she began to discuss different tips and tricks for extracting a subject from their background. One of the things I had never thought of before was using a textured brush to create the masking, using a leaf brush for foliage or a hair brush for a furry animal. I have always struggled with getting clean extractions around hair, fur, or trees, so I am really excited to try this tip.

The day ended on that point. For the second day of Class Karen has told us we will be working on completing our extractions and putting together the different elements she will be using from the photos of Alice. After that she is going to discuss how to create light, shadows, and other editing techniques to ensure that the piece looks like it was shot all as one image as well as add a fun fantasy vibe to it. I am really excited to watch the live stream today and I hope you will be joining me. This is also a class I will be adding to my favorites in my digital library along with Watercolors 101 and Photoshop for Photographers. I’m also excited to combine composite creation in Photoshop with Corel Painter to create more images like this one of my daughter.

Digital composite created in Photoshop then painted in Corel Painter | Smithsquad.com

What have been your favorite CreativeLive classes or which ones are you looking forward to? Do you have any awesome compositing tips or tutorials to share? I love seeing new links to explore in the comments. 

Beginning Photography Educational Resources

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I (Emily) am a photographer. I have always loved photography, but hadn’t felt confident in myself to actually do more than take pictures of my own children. Educating myself on both the art and technicalities of good photography is the #1 thing that allowed me to find the confidence to take the jump and go pro. Here are a few of my favorite resources for the aspiring photographer.

Adobe Photoshop|Photography|Smith Squad|HomeschoolAmazon is having a special right now on the Adobe one year subscriction to the photographer’s bundle ($9.99 a month billed monthly for Photoshop and Lightroom). If you purchase by April 11th they will give you a $25 Amazon credit.

I read many books on Photoshop while pursuing my BFA in Digital Design. Adobe Photoshop for Photographers is the most comprehensive nitty gritty how to book I read. It is my Photoshop bible! It is always on my shelf and I pull it out whenever I need a reminder on how to do something or inspiration to try something new.

For learning the basics of digital photography and editing anything by Scott Kelby is going to be good. I have read several of his books.

The Photographer’s Eye is the best book out there for learning the artistic side of photography. It discusses different artistic principles such as rule of thirds, leading lines, and utilizing triangles and circles that you can use to improve the composition of your shots. The author discusses different lenses and how they affect your image. He also gives several examples of one scene photographed in several different way and discusses the pros and cons of each shot.

If you only ever read one book about photography it has to be Understanding Exposure. This book will teach you how to get your camera off of auto and fully take control of your images. It discusses how different apertures and shutter speeds affect your images. It will enable you to see in your mind what you want your image to have (motion blur, depth of field, etc.) and actually achieve it! Also by getting your exposure correct in camera you avoid editing problems that degrade the quality of your photos such as overexposed highlights and excess noise from underexposure.

One of my favorite resources for continuing my education is Creative Live. Creative Live streams live classes by professionals on every topic from shooting to editing, posing to documentary, and more. If you watch the class live then it is free and you can jump in the chatrooms to interact with other students and ask questions. They also have a small live studio audience. I have been blessed to be in that audience twice now. Attendance is free, you just have to cover your own travel costs and hotel stay. There are two studios, Seattle and San Francisco, so if you live near one of those areas then you should definitely apply to attend some classes.

There are a million and one other resources out there. The most important thing is to just jump in and learn all you can then get your camera in your hands and shoot everything until you feel comfortable with what you are doing.

What other photography resources do you love? What photography questions would you like to have answered?