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News & Insight

Photoshop Composite of 300+ Hours & 1000 Layers|Whimsical New York

By Kishore Sawh on March 29th 2014


In 1960, the fact that I could write from my couch, and send this out instantly for you to read on your own, or whatever cozy spot you’ve taken up for the moment, would’ve seemed like futuristic science fiction – Orwellian even. But in 1962, something happened, and the future became the now. Telstar, what the Queen of England went on to call ‘the invisible focus of a million eyes,’ was launched. It eked out of our atmosphere until it reached about 22,000 miles from Earth, when it decided to stop. Which was fine, as from this distance, the little pinhead in the sky had a gorgeous penthouse view of Earth, and specifically could see North America and Europe at once. This meant it could relay information, like a television channel, in real time, across the pond. It was a game changer of modern communication – it was the Genesis of it.

It may seem trivial in comparison, but Photoshop is in many ways an evolution of it. It doesn’t just allow us to visually relay information that’s there, but allows us to visually communicate what isn’t; but what’s wished for, what could be, or whatever mad thought is in your head, and suspend it in reality. It was this thought that brought photographer and graphic artist Josh Rossi to his field. One of his latest projects, a piece done for Adobe’s Marketing Cloud, took him over 300 hours, and the single composite has over 1000 individual layers. It’s intense, and incredible.


‘Whimsical New York,’ is all photography and each shot was taken by Josh. As you can see from the final product, the perspective isn’t one from eye level, but raised. To get this perspective and capture the 50+ elements required was achieved by slapping a camera on a tripod which he held in the air, setting a timer, and a high shutter speed. The challenges to a composite of this magnitude would be apparent to anyone who’s ever done even a basic panorama shoot – largely it’s light, and the lighting had to match up. It requires passion to get this much detail, but passion isn’t something Rossi is lacking,

That’s when I started getting into compositing. I realized that I could actually create the images that were inside my head. I never thought that was possible before. I became literally obsessed with ad photography. I would stay up every night until 2 or 3am studying my favorite photographers. I would study every single detail and try to recreate what I saw.

Josh has pleasantly shared some of his behind the scenes images where we can see from the initial shots to the layer work, to the final product.






[REWIND: Lightroom Can Quickly Show You What Gear You Need and Don’t Need]




In Addition

If you have a large computer screen, go to his website and see the large version he has up. What strikes you is the tremendous detail; from people inside the buildings, to the detail of the people themselves. It’s a veritable ‘Where’s Waldo?’ but done with real people. Of course, it’s all surreal looking with bent Inception-esque buildings and such, but damn if it isn’t impressive, and I’m glad Telstar’s replacements can bring it to me.

Clearly, his work has to be impressive to have garnered the attention and clients that he has. His YouTube channel is full of great tutorials on how to manipulate images in Photoshop, and his site is always up to date with great new info. You can keep up with Josh on Composite Planet, his website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Behance. Highly recommend you do so.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jacob Jexmark

    Wow, such a great images! So creative :) I must admire the editing tenacity.

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  2. Smarten Up

    Amazingly, his use of Photoshop also ensures that NYC is full of only white people?
    Or maybe that is all Josh knows?

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    • Josh

      What do you mean by only white people? Do you mean European, Asian, South African or middle eastern? Be more specific or people might get the wrong idea. If you take a closer look at the image you will see many different ethnicities.

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  3. Jonathan

    GASP! It makes me thing to these architecture simulations where people are kinda stuck on the landscape without any effort (edges or logic about light effect): . I guess it was the point, but sometimes less is more…

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  4. Brad Barlow

    Don’t forget his podcast. It’s new every weekday, upbeat, and filled with takeaways. Search Full Time Photographer on iTunes.

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    • Hanssie

      Yes! Josh just interviewed me for the podcast and is setting up an interview with Pye soon as well. Great resource!

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  5. Connor

    This is so cool. I am almost more impressed with the photographers ability to spend 300+ hours on one photo.

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    • Pye

      Yeah no doubt. I love the results, and then it just reminds me how I don’t think I could ever spend that long on a single project with my photographer ADD, haha!

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