Creating Stunning Creative Photos in Adobe Photoshop
No matter who you are, we all have some sort of creativity and imagination to make creative pieces of work. These creative composites have stretched me the most as a creative, but I had so much fun creating these stunning creative photos in Adobe Photoshop. One of my favorite conceptual and creative photographers is Heather Evans Smith. Her vision and ideas come to life in all of her photographs.
For my first and favorite creative composite it took a long time to understand plan and execute this composited image. This final photo is a combination of four different photos that I took: one of the sky–right outside of my apartment, a photo of a leather suitcase, an old photo I took of the ocean when I was vacationing in Hawaii, and my own self-portrait.
In Adobe Photoshop I started with a gray color fill layer. On top of that I had the photo of the cloudy sky and erased the bottom half of the photo that wouldn’t be needed. With some hue/saturation and color balance layer adjustments I created a blue effect that I wanted for the sky. My next layer was to add in the water. My original water photo was more of a gray color, so I used a few curves and levels adjustment layers to match the blue hues in the sky. To add more of a realistic vibe to my photo I decided to add in some clouds using a brush I had previously created. I created three layers worth of clouds and used a clipping mask so that the color edits would only affect the cloud group. With the background all done, I started with the main elements of my photo.
With the quick selection tool and some fine adjusting to my selection, I cut out my photo of the leather suitcase and brought it into my main file. I created a duplicate selection of the suitcase so that there would be one I was sitting on and another closer in the background. With a clipping mask I adjusted the hue and saturation to get a more darker and worn down leather suitcase.
I pulled in my self portrait into my main file and with the quick selection tool I created a mask so that my body is the only thing visible. I created a duplicate layer and added in some shadows on the suitcase to make it feel more realistic with the lighting. When I originally took my self-portrait I used two speedlites, one with a rogue flashbender as a modifier and another pointed towards the back of my body with a grid. I wanted the lighting in the lantern to look realistic so with a brush I painted in a bold, dark orange as the base and center color and used a blending mode of hard light. To create a glowing effect from the lantern I added two additional layers with the same soft brush with a blending mode of screen. On my last layer using the brush I painted in with a lighter orange color with a blending mode of soft light and a low opacity, I went and painted in places where the light from the lantern would’ve fell if it were real life. To top off my image I added a black color fill layer, dropped down the opacity and in the layer mask painted away the parts of the photo that I wanted to highlight.
This definitely took a long time and a lot of tampering and playing around with colors and selections, but I’m proud of how it ultimately turned out!
For this creative piece I created a cinemagraph. It’s very similar to a gif, but in post production I had more flexibility in what is actually animated and what would remain still. Just like in a regular photo, you can use layer masks to hide or reveal what you want.
I had several ideas of what I wanted to do, but I wanted to push myself and come up with an idea that most people probably wouldn’t have thought of. I had my roommate grab a mirror that I bought from a local thrift store and got to work. In camera I set it up in video and had to do several takes in order to get this cinemagraph the way I envisioned it.
In post, I changed my workspace to Motion and started editing this video. My idea was to create a photo of my roommate and her reflection in the mirror to be animated. On a layer above the video, I painted in with a brush, the area of the mirror so that it would show through, similar to a regular mask on a photo. It was a little bit of a meticulous job because she moved the mirror in every frame, but I was able to capture the motion that would happen in the mirror. Pressing shift+option+cmd+e created a new layer that was not animated and with that, I switched the brush and new layer so that it was now on top again. With the brush layer selected while clicking the option button, I created a selection of the painted mirror area. On the layer below I created a layer mask and inverted it so that the layer on top is the only thing that would be animated or “show through”. Finally I deleted the brush layer so that the only layers I had in my Photoshop document were the animated video and this new layer with the layer mask.
Even though this took significantly less time than my self-portrait creative composite, this was more difficult for me as I worked more with layer masks and video rather than a still image. I learned a lot from this experience and because of it I have better understanding of video, layer masks, and overall editing in Adobe Photoshop. Hope you enjoy!