There has been a TON of talk these days regarding newborn portraits, taking it to the max and keeping safety first. Although there are many awesome photogs out there that can capture amazing newborn portraits of babies in what are considered “wild” setups or unique poses without composite shooting, there are many things to remember! Many (if not all) of these shooters have assistants and will sometimes even ask for a hand from mom and/or dad.
We need to remeber that in every session, whether it be a newborn or child, or even a senior hanging out on the railroad tracks, safety is the most important part of a shot. We never want to put a subject in harms way and sometimes, not always, we need to work a composite shot to get what our creative minds are thinking onto film.
Many have asked “What exactly is a comp shot”? It simple terms it is taking two pictures of one setup and combining the two to look like one.
Today we will walk you through a basic comp shot and how it can be perfected after captured in camera. (P.S.- this is the same technique that I use when I need a head swap, or two, something we should all get ready for with the big holiday/family season right in front of us!)
99% of the time I can get this shot in camera with the help of an assistant waiting only inches away from my perfectly balanced babe. But this little booger wasn’t having it..she would fall to her right EVERY time we CAREFULLY pulled away and would drop her head like it weighed 200 bs. So we resorted to a comp shot.
Step 1: Setup the shot. You will need to keep in mind that you will be combining the shots so make sure you do a true 50/50 split in your mind when snapping the two pictures. I knew my assistant would have to keep her hands on the babe in both shots and I need to make sure there was a center portion of the babe without any assistant interference or this wont work.
Step 2: Snap your two shots. Here are the two shots I took side by side.
Step 3: Drag one of the shot over and ontop of the other. (Just drag that layer over).
Step 4: Lower the opacity of your top layer so that you can see what lies underneath. When taking a comp you may not get back into the exact spot you were in for the first, maybe a hair further away, etc. I always find a focal point that I want to match, and I almost ALWAYS use the eyes of my subject. With the opacity lowered I can cake sure my eyes in each picture are exactly overlaying each other. I have to to tilt my top shot just a bit to make sure the eyes line up and when they look perfect I can move on.
Step 5: Add a layer mask to your top layer (see pic below on where to click to add a quick layer mask) You will want to use a mask not just your eraser tool to ensure the ability to go back and paint on minor mistakes.
Step 6: Bring back the opacity of your top layer. Make sure your layer mask is selected and grab a black, soft airbrush at 100% opacity and start removing the assistant interference in your photo.
You will end up with something like this.
Step 7: Edit away. This is where I put the finishing touches and final edits on my photo…POOF ready for print!
Go. Shoot. Be Safe.
(P.S. – this is of course just how I have come to do my comp shots, if you have tips and tricks, please share them here!)