Getting it Right...Technically. / by Ken Greenhorn

I wanted to write this blog to show how important it is to get the details technically correct when doing a composite. This was a photo idea that had been bouncing around in my head for quite a few years. I wanted to make it look like I was hanging on to something for my life from a very high height. If you know me, you know that I am very, very scared of heights, so when helping a friend move, it was all I could do to go out on the balcony and stand by the edge, looking down 15 storeys...I placed my foot near the edge, reached as far as my arms would allow, pointed the camera down, and took the shot. (See Fig. 1)

 FIG. 1

FIG. 1

Next, I took a self portrait of me as if I was hanging on to the edge of the balcony. (FIG. 2). After extracting myself from the background, I placed 'me' into the photo of the balcony, removed my foot and leg and then processed it a bit with a few NIK (Google) filters and I figured I was done. (FIG. 3).

 FIG. 2

FIG. 2

 FIG. 3

FIG. 3

Something was still not quite right...I noticed that it needed some shadows to make it look more realistic and, after showing it to my son (the physics engineer), he said no one would physically hang that way. That was it...a very important detail. He said that my body should hang under the center of gravity (my hand). So.... back to the drawing board...in FIG. 4 you will notice that my hand is now centered more in the center of my body, and that you can see how my body swings a bit to the left.

 FIG. 4

FIG. 4

After compositing my newest photo into the balcony photo, I also noticed that I did not like the ledge in the original balcony photo, as it would tend to kick out my legs and body too much. After reducing the width of the ledge and adding a few shadows (very important) around the hand and where the body was close to the railing spindles, I was close to being done...again. (FIG. 5)

 FIG. 5

FIG. 5

After a few more filters and a bit of motion blur, we have the final image. 

 FINAL IMAGE

FINAL IMAGE

In summary, when compositing it is very important to ensure the lighting on the inserted image is similar to the background image. Place shadows to add realism to the photo; make sure the scale is realistic. Remember to be open to other's opinions and advice as they may notice details that you might have missed. And most of all, have fun with the image making!