Featured Stock Photograph – Business and Nature

Business and nature
Business and nature

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Of course it’s a composite! Today’s featured photograph is part of a long series of photos I shot last January. It was actually one of my first organized shoots where I paid an actor to model for a specific role. Of course like everyone starting in stock, I selected the businessman. So we went on location in an office and shot for 3 or 4 hours. I came back with hundreds of shot and selected about 35-40 to send to agencies. I did this in two waves, in February and May. I like to spread things out with long series so that the new shots revive attraction to the older ones. It also helps me identify what expressions clients will buy off a specific model. With this shoot, for example, the best selling pictures at all the agencies where revolving around panic and anger. I went back to it last Friday and processed another small wave of new shots off of that old shoot (I won’t quit until I make back the money I’ve invested, which should be in a few weeks) and decided to do composites and make the location more meaningful. I was amused by the model’s expression here, and thought it would play well against this background, which was shot last September at the botanical gardens and wasn’t very interesting by itself. Bringing the two shots together made both photos more interesting in my opinion.

You have to be ultra careful when sending composites to some agencies, especially Istock, which tends to pixel hunt and reject the shot at the most minute visible nick in your work. In this case, some regular brush masking was done (mostly around the suit), in short strokes at 100% opacity far-off and repeated %40 strokes near the suits to let the fabric’s fine hair show. The head and hair was done by copying the blue channel, augmenting contrast and burning/dodging until a had a clear-cut black and white silhouette to select. The light was then adjusted (a mixture of masked gradients in Soft light blending mode) to match and the colors were adjusted using the local color filter in key areas. Hair was drawn in manually around the rough isolation edges on a new layer with a 0.3 pixel gaussian blur added afterward. For a final touch, I added some very soft noise (16% opacity on a medium gray layer set to soft light blending mode with a 0.4 pixel gaussian blur) which unifies the two shots into one. This said, I’m really not convinced that it works. But, you know, practice makes perfect… eventually…

Royalty Free License available at Istockphoto.com

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