Plate shots make post-processing composite images much easier and faster. Be sure to use a tripod if possible when taking plate shots. To illustrate how to post-process a composite image using a plate shot, we have provided an image from chapter five of this workshop, “Outdoors: Office Park Turned Epic.”
Once inside Lightroom, adjust the color temperature of your image. Next, use a radial filter set to “Burn Exposure” to adjust the lighting and add drama to the scene. The radial filter works wonders for darkening the background and drawing attention to the couple. Click “J” to check for clipping of shadows and highlights, and adjust to taste. We decided to exaggerate the small presence of the sun in the image by using the Sun Flare special effects brush. A quick stroke over the veil with the Detail Enhancement brush helps to bring out the highlights in the veil.
After you have finished adjusting your initial image, you can sync the settings to the plate shot and then export both images to Photoshop. To export, select both images, right click, and select “Edit In,” and then “Open as Layers in Photoshop.” When the files open in Photoshop, auto-align both layers to align the plate shot with the “final” image. Then, on the “final” image layer, add a layer mask and use the paintbrush to paint black over the areas of the image you wish to conceal.
Use a smaller brush to remove finer details in the background. Sometimes, for example, there may be movement between layers, such as leaves blowing in the wind, and if elements of both layers are exposed, it may create a blurred effect over the details.