How to Make a Floating Portrait

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November 20, 2014 at 10:30 am  •  Posted in Inspiration, Seneca Spotlight by  •  0 Comments

© Rob Botten

© Rob Botten

The Seneca @ York Independent Digital Photography Program is a two-year diploma course that prepares students for a freelance career and provides them with the necessary skill set to work in a multidisciplinary studio. Photo Life is proud to partner with Seneca students to document their journey through the school curriculum. This week Rob Botten shares about compositing.

Class: Digital Imaging I
Assignment: Composite
Student: Rob Botten
Professor: Ron Erwin
Assignment guidelines: Create a composite image using 2 or more images.

We were allowed to do anything we wanted as long as it involved a major change to the image, or involved some of the composting skills we had learned throughout the semester. With a little help from my teacher Ron Erwin, I managed to come to the decision to do a floating portrait. It is a style of portrait that requires at least two images and some compositing work in Photoshop. I needed to set a camera up on a tripod and get the correct lighting for both the background and the model. Depending on the situation, either the background or the photo with the model can be taken first. Once the two photos are taken, all that’s needed is a few hours with Photoshop and a fanciful portrait will be the final product. This was a very exciting task for me, as it would the first time I would be getting a model and finding a location. I was very excited, and I must admit, a little nervous as well.

© Rob Botten

© Rob Botten

I was able to arrange a day and time with a female model who was just starting out in the modeling world. I would later find out she could not have been a better model for the photos. With the model in mind, I set out to find the right location. I decided to go with something more familiar: High Park, a massive park located near the heart of Toronto. I knew many good places that could work for a floating portrait. It didn’t take too long before I had the right place scouted out: a quiet and semi-hidden spot surrounded by trees and bushes. All I had to do now was wait for the day of the shoot.

The model and I met up on a cold early spring day in the middle of High Park and headed off for the shoot. Already I felt sorry for her; the air was cold, the wind had a bit of a crisp bite to it, and she would have to be in a light summer dress. She, however, seemed very excited about our planned shoot and didn’t even care about the cool weather. Upon arriving at our location I began to set up the lighting kit as she got herself into the first dress we were going to use. I took the photos of the background, and then got the stool ready and asked her to balance lying down on it. The two hours involved us laughing about the ridiculousness of the situation. First, the stool was very unstable and led to her falling off more often than not. A squirrel also decided to relieve itself on me from high up in a branch. (I felt very small pellets landing on my head at one point, only to look up and see a squirrel way up on a branch, with perfect aim.)

At the end of the day, I had over 100 images involving different locations and looks. After doing the easy yet tedious task of Photoshop, which I very much enjoy, I had produced some of my best images at the present time. From the assignment, I learned a fair amount, primarily about preparing a shot for Photoshop compositing during a shoot. Overall, it was a great learning experience.

© Rob Botten

© Rob Botten

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