Composite Photography: Jon Davis and his Kawasaki Ninja

Recently I started experimenting with building composite images in Photoshop.  I always have been drawn to the great composite work of photographers like Joel Grimes and Dave Hill just to name a couple. I’ve been intrigued with the thought of being able to come up with a photo in my head and being able to execute it fully without being limited by things like time of day, location, budget, weather along with the many other factors that can complicate the creation of a photo.  Building composites allows you total control over your final image.  Not everyone is a fan of this type of work though and it may not render the right type of photo that a client may be looking for in certain situations.  But I think when a client knows you have the ability to create something different like a composite image in your photography arsenal, you become just a little bit more valuable.



Now by no means do I think the two images I have created are perfect examples of composite images.  Lets just say I jumped in the pool with out really knowing how to swim.  The two images are a couple of shots I had bouncing around in my head for a while.  I wanted to shoot some cool sort of edgy shots of my buddy Jon and his motorcycle for my portfolio.  I wanted something with a little bit different, a little bit more surreal feel to the final image than just your run of the mill environmental portrait.  I got some books, watched some demos on the internet and thought building a composite would be a great way to execute these images.  So I gave my buddy Jon a call and he was all on board to help me out by donating his time and bike in exchange for some nice pics of him and his ride.



The images of Jon and his motorcycle were all shot on a white seamless in order to easily extract him and the bike from the image.  Below are a couple of lighting diagrams showing how I lit him and the bike.



This was the set up to for the shot of Jon holding his helmet as well as him on his motorcycle.


Shot of Jon straight out of camera unedited.


Jon on his motorcycle straight out of camera unedited.


This was the set up for the motorcycle by its self.


Motorcycle straight out of camera unedited.

The next task at hand was to go shoot some backgrounds.  The background for the portrait shot of Jon walking from the bike was shot on the top level of a parking ramp in downtown Green Bay.  The Background for the shot of Jon riding was actually taken not to far from my house.  Taking a page out of the Joel Grimes book of composite creation (I don’t believe Joel has an actual book on creating composites) I decided to shoot HDRs of my background to help get as much dynamic range as possible since both shots were heavily backlit.  The HDRs were then quickly processed in Photomatix Pro before being taken into Photoshop to put together.


Six exposure HDR combined in Photomatix Pro unedited.


I didn’t think the sky was interesting enough for what I wanted so I went into my library of sky photos and created this HDR to use.


The background for the riding shot. Six exposure HDR combined in Photomatix Pro unedited.

Then after a great deal of extracting parts, adjusting layers, dodging and burning, creating shadows and a bunch of other Photoshop magic, I finally churned out a couple of images.  Thanks again for looking.




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