Over the summer, I’m supposed to be researching and experimenting for what’s called my “negotiated project” for an assignment next year. It’s about time I made a start.
First up, a composite street shot. I’d seen these online recently:
Pelle Cass shoots a whole series of photos from the same location and then carefully composites them to make these over-crowded scenes. I read about his work on PetaPixel here (PetaPixel is a source of much inspiration and I expect it will get mentioned a lot on here) and straight away thought I’d like to have a go. I’d seen the exact opposite idea mentioned a while ago – to use the same technique to show completely empty street scenes – but this was a new idea to me.
Finally I’ve had a go. I started by doing a very basic test out of my front room window as the bins were being collected. This was the result:
This was only six layers, and very little overlap between the dustman’s positions so was relatively straightforward, but it was a good opportunity to test out several methods. (You did notice it was just one dustman, didn’t you?)
Having done that I set myself up in Stevenage Town Centre and shot around sixty versions of a view over the town square over the course of about 45 minutes. And then set to work making this composite:
Do click on the image to see a full-screen version so you can see properly what’s going on. The final image was made up of about 40 layers, opened as a stack in photoshop and each layer masked to reveal only those people I wanted.
This time it was much more complicated, as now I had people – and more fiddly, shadows – overlapping. But I persevered and am pleased with the result. I’d estimate that it took up to about six hours compositing this all together, but I was refining the technique all the time and finding ways to make it easier, so if I did it again (and I plan to) I’d hopefully be a bit more efficient with my time.
Main lesson? Start from the back and work your way forwards. Would have simplified a lot. Just saying.
Update: I sent a link to this blog post to Pelle Cass to let him know I’d taken inspiration from his idea and had a go. Just had a reply from him saying “Nice compositing! You’ve got the technique down.” How nice to get positive feedback from your inspiration. Thanks, Pelle.