Anatomy of a composite image.
The sculpture gardens of the late Alan Houser is monumental and features some large impressive pieces. This particular piece is almost 30 feet tall. We faced several challenges based on the constraints of the magazine/catalog layout.
- This is the opener two page spread for the article.
- Sculpture is disproportionate to models.
- If we move the models away from the sculpture to show both, the sculpture is out of focus and we lose details.
- There is no room to separate the models because of the juniper trees surrounding.
- The sun is high in the sky when the models were photographed rendering dark shadows on their faces and the sculpture is extremely shadowed.
The background shot.
ur solution is to photograph the sculpture several days in advance under more pleasing morning light. These images will be compiled into a wider panoramic image (click on image below to see final compiled panoramic).
The Model Shots
he models were photographed three days later, around 11am under very harsh New Mexico sunlight. We placed a diffusion scrim over their heads to soften the sun and added strobes to the right. You can see the huge disparate sizing of models to sculpture.
he horse, with trainer Jim Porcher and owners, was taken around noon under even more harsh light. A scrim could not be used over the horse, which makes for different lighting that could not be avoided.
The final compiled images required masking the models, trainer and horse from their respective backgrounds, reversing the horse and the foreground model, then blending the images in Photoshop for the final composite.
The final image used in the magazine did not feature the horseman and horse on the left, instead the left page of this double-truck was open and an inset was positioned there. The composite offered an enormous flexibility and is quite valuable for graphic designers.