Case Study 7 | Drag + Composite | Transcription
This is going to be an awesome tool because we’re going to focus on a bunch of things. We’re kind of putting a lot of things together in this, and part of it is compositing. We’re not going to go too deep into … We’re going to explain in a very simple way and then we’re going to come out with full compositing tools and Photoshop later on so you guys understand exactly how these things are done. For those who have a little bit of Photoshop experience, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about and it will make total sense.
Let’s talk about this shot though and the approach to the shot. We have Matt and Laura. We’re set up for this night time shot. This is a classic Lin and Jirsa shot where we slowdown the shutter. We get the cars driving by and we get all this motionless, this beautiful shot and everything. But oh crap, we have no cars. It is past rush hour. We’re shooting like around 7PM-ish right as the sun is setting. There is really not a lot of cars in downtown and while generally we would shoot this all in one shot. To get these all in one photograph, you actually need cars travelling on both sides of the street at the same time. They don’t necessarily have to be moving quick, but there needs to be cars there. We didn’t have that.
We have these kind of sparse cars coming a little bit on the left side and a little bit on the right side. We can sit there and wait for that perfect kind of left and right cars to come, but that might take 20 or 30 minutes to do that. We know how to composite. With a correctly done composite, it takes maybe only five minutes to put this together in photo shop and have a final image that is perfect.
What does that require? It needs a few different things. Step one is to basically get what we refer to … I can’t even talk right now. It’s because we’re two videos away from the completion of this entire workshop. Step number one, we take a plate photograph. The plate is basically the shot that we’re going to base the entire image on. We put the camera onto a tripod. We take the plate shot. That’s the base for the entire photograph and that’s the photo effort you use to blend everything into. Sometimes your plate can include the subjects, sometimes it doesn’t include the subject. In this one I thought it’d be great to include them because we will keep it very simple. I just want to add two additional shots on top of that, and we’re done.
How do we shoot this plate shot? We’re using a tripod, and my favorite budget tripod is a MeFOTO GlobeTrotter. It’s 200 bucks. You could even get the smaller ones, the road trips which are even less expensive, but the GlobeTrotter if you have a full framed DSLR, like a larger one, let’s say a Cannon or Icon and you have … Not the mirror-less ones. The mirror less ones you can use a smaller tripod, but I’m talking about mirrored DSLR setups that are a little bit heavier. The GlobeTrotter is just going to be a little bit better. My favorite is the MeFOTO GlobeTrotter Carbon Fibre. That’s the guy that I like to use because he’s my favorite. He’s super light just as good of weight and support and everything as the standard GrobeTrotter, but is a little bit lighter in travel. Of course it’s a little bit more expensive. It’s 330 bucks.
We found that the MeFOTO tripods, they are the best bang for the buck. Yes, you can spend … There is a lot of really great tripod makers out there like 3 Legged Thing, Really Right Stuff, but you’re not spending like 1000 or 1200 bucks. Given that we don’t necessarily take care of our equipment the way that we should, it gets expensive very quickly if you have to buy $1000 tripods. These are a fantastic value for the quality that you’re getting.
Let’s move on. We’re using a west car, we’re using two west cars, 40 inches. Just the white over silver in this case. Step number one. We shoot for the couple. We pose them right in front right here. This is our plate. We’re using a faster shatter speed so that basically we don’t get any motion blur in them. For a faster shutter speed, we’re using either a higher ISO or we’re opening up the after to allow more light in either way. Let’s look at these settings for this first shot. The plate down here … We’re on the 24mm lens. This is the 24-70. I think we used actually a 24mm 1.4 prime in this one, but either way whether you’re using 24-70, anything in 24mm is going to look identical to this at one tenth of a second an F4 and ISO 800. We’re at one tenth of a second, at one tenth of a second with flash. If you take a few shots that generally … It’s quick enough that you’re going to get motion in the couple. You just tell them, “Hold perfectly still,” and they can hold it for one tenth of a second. It’s very simple to get that shot and maybe you want to take two or three just to make sure that they are tech sharp.
We’re F4 and ISO 800. Our flash is set to one quarter to one eighth powerish, white over silver bounce. Then the bounce is coming from camera white. You see based on the shadows and is kind of coming … Just held up a little bit so it’s coming top down and getting a really nice beautiful light on them. It’s looks fantastic. Their skins look great. It’s a nice, soft and diffused light because we’re using the white side and it’s a larger reflect. It’s look great. Beautiful, we have shot. Now we need to get the other shots to basically blend. We need to get the cars going along the left side of street then the cars going along the right side of the street.
What do we do? We slow down the shutter. We slow down the shutter to two seconds. We’re going from one tenth of a second to two seconds. We are at F4 and we bring the ISO down three stops. We go from ISO 800 to 400 to 200 to 100. What we’re essentially trying to do is balance out the exposures between these three shots. If we can get it right on, and basically you might need to do a little bit of math in your head or you can just get the exposures close and you can fix it in Lightroom. Ideally you want to get these exposures right no so that way when you get in a Lightroom, all you do is apply the same processing across all three of them and then you take it into Photoshop to do some basic masking.
If the exposures are a little bit off, it’s okay because when you’re in Lightroom you can balance out the exposures basically by brightening one, darkening another and so forth. Really try to get it as close as possible. If the exposures are significantly off, then it will ruin your composite or it’s going to ruin the quality of your composite.
When the cars go by in the left side of the street, we shoot for those. I don’t need the couple in the shot here because I already have my plate image with the couple. When the cars go along the right side of the street, we shoot for that, and we’re done. We have all three of our shots. Now combining them is as simple as taking all of three of these files. We apply our developed settings across all three, balance the exposure inside of Lightroom if we need to, and then we take all three of these into Photoshop. Inside a Photoshop, I apply a basic mask. The plate goes right on the bottom. I put these two on top layers. I do a basic mask where I just show this part of this image, the right part of this image and the rest is all the plate. It looks like it’s one scene of shot.
That whole process takes only five minutes if it’s shot correctly. We’ll have full tutorials on compositing, but it’s kind of a separate tutorial from where we are at right now. What we’ve done is combined a lighting one one one technique with compositing to come up with a really fantastic shot. This looks like off camera flash. Based on the car lights behind them, it looks like she has a little bit of a high light. Our scene and our background looks fantastic because we’re doing a little bit of a shatter drag. We pick up this blue and the lighting from the buildings. Everything looks fantastic in this photo, yet it’s basic on camera flash. It’s done with very minimal photo shop and we’re getting almost everything in camera except for just the overall masking at the very end.
Could you do this in real life? Absolutely. You need the cars to be on both sides of the street. You need to be travelling a little bit quicker because generally when I try and do this all on one shot, I don’t like the shutter speed to go below one half to one second. That means the car is going to be moving a little bit quicker. If they are stuck in traffic, again your best bet is to shoot the couple separate and then do the left, and the right and the combine all three of them.