Sunday, February 23, 2020

Tips and Tricks for Composite Photography

Creating composites is one of my favorite things to do with photography!

It also boosts my portrait business to a new level
 because I can offer clients photos beyond the ordinary.

I get asked all the time how to do composite work,
so here are some tips and tricks for coming up
with fun ideas and how to composite them into one photograph.

The first thing, is to decide your scene.
I like to peruse Pixabay...a free photo site for inspiration!

In the photo above,  I was creating a Christmas card for two little sisters.
I typed in Christmas on Pixabay and I found this photo of
the gingerbread house.

That gave me the idea to make it life-sized and add the girls!

I also got the snowy background from Pixabay.

I found this great shot of the grand entrance of a mansion on Pixabay:

Finding an interesting photo can spark ideas!

I decided to blow out the roof and side rooms
 so I could see the outdoors and add snow
to create a fantasy photo.

I added a sky, and winter scenes, plus snow!

I placed a photo of my daughter and a tree at the top of the staircase,

My imagination had me adding more elements and fine details until I got this:

For a Christmas portrait, I gathered these elements on Pixabay:

I found this wonderful crescent moon on Pixabay and composited 
it onto a starry night sky.

I purposely posed my clients so I could composite 
them sitting together on the moon
for their Christmas portrait.

I always photograph subjects for composites in front
of my white board at the front edge of my garage for exquisite light. 
(Click on this blog post to learn how to easily make a white board!)

To learn how to move your subject and other props from one photo

This video also shows you how to match the tone of
your subject to the background!

I love to look for seasonal backgrounds
and photograph my subjects with the background in mind.

Isn't this background amazing for autumn?
I found it on Pixabay.

These backgrounds can take your subject to places
you may never find in your area.

I created these magical portraits for my client,
dressing them in colors to match!

I also photographed the pumpkins and added those.

I always look for these backgrounds before the photo shoots
so I can coordinate clothing, props and poses.

I found this next photo of a wonderful French candy shop on Pixabay.

And, created this Christmas scene:

I found the reindeer, Santa and various elements on Pixabay!

I photographed a precious baby boy in front of the white board.

And, gave him a friend for his Christmas card:

The possibilities are endless!

By coming up with the background and theme first,
you can dress and pose your subject and capture the perfect expressions.

Adding drop shadows is important!
Watch this video tutorial to learn how to create them. 

Create composites in every season!

I hope this gives you some inspiration to try some composites
of your own.  Just start playing with it by moving
subjects to new backgrounds.

It does take trial and error to figure out proportion, shading and light,
but whenever I run into a snag, I just look up a tutorial!

I learn something new with every composite I do!


How to Make and Photograph Macarons

It's winter which has me stuck inside, so I've been experimenting with
making and photographing French Macarons!

These delicate cookie gems with the crispy shell, and melt-in-your-mouth 
interior are notoriously pesky to make.

There are a zillion recipes and tutorials online, 
and I tried many of them...
and I failed at many of them!

Check out this dismal failure:

These were supposed to be a lovely shade of lilac, but they failed to 
rise, develop feet and they turned brown, yet raw inside!  

I was not to be defeated, so I finally mixed and tweaked several recipes
and this one came out right every time!

Jill's Macarons


2 egg whites at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla or other extract flavor  (Try filling your tsp. 3/4 full of vanilla and fill the rest of the tsp.                                                                 with almond extract! So yummy!)
A few drops of color gel to your liking

Dry ingredients:

1 cup Anthony's Premium Blanched Almond Flour (I got this from Amazon)
1 cup confectioner's sugar

I put all meringue ingredients into a medium sized mixing bowl and beat on high until the meringue formed stiff peaks.  If you can turn the bowl upside down and the meringue stays's ready!

Fold in the dry ingredients and keep folding for about 30 strokes.  You want the mixture to flow like lava from the spatula.

Place mixture into a 16-inch piping bag with a Wilton 1A piping tip.  Pipe straight down and lift.  These silicone macaron template mats work  GREAT!  Or you can pipe onto parchment paper.

After piping, lift the cookie pan about 6 inches off the counter
and let it fall 3 to 5 times.  
This will release air bubbles that can cause the cookies to crack
or leave craters.

Touch up any stray air bubbles or bumps with a toothpick.

Set piped cookies aside for 20-30 minutes to develop a skin on top.
This is what will create the feet in the oven.

Bake at 315-degrees for 10-13 minutes

I leave mine on the cookie sheet until they cool completely.

Pipe on your favorite buttercream frosting, jam, ganache or try other fillings 
for your macaron shells.

After all my experimenting and perfecting this recipe
that worked for me,
I finally made PRETTY lilac-colored macarons!

I wanted that color because I found this pretty tea cup at a thrift store.

The very next day after my lilac macaron success,
I bought some neon color gels and tried teal!

I played with piping tips for the buttercream frosting.

As a photographer, I was first attracted to macarons because I wanted
to photograph their pastel loveliness!

Here are a few tips for Photographing baked goods:

Gather a variety of matching plates, cups, flowers, and any other props
you would like to include in your macaron photos.

I like to shoot on my kitchen table with my big picture window behind the scene.

Window light from behind or from the side is beautiful,
just don't shoot with the subject in direct, harsh sunlight.

The trick is to create depth with your  set-up!

See how I staggered my props depth-wise? 

Taller bunnies are in far back, shorter props 
staggered in depth behind the main subject...the macarons!

I use my Canon 50mm lens
and set it for a wide aperture.  (Start with f.2.2)

This staggered set up allows the props to blur into 
beautiful art in the background!

For some extra bokeh sparkle in the background,
place Christmas lights or fairy lights around the
props in the far background!

Look how pretty the lights twinkle in the photos!

I tried making heart-shaped macarons, but I used
an artificial sweetner so my husband could eat them.

They didn't rise or develop feet!

But, I still photographed them...
just didn't show the lack-of feet!

Try making these beautiful cookies in a variety of pastels,
 perfect for Easter!

Macarons may give you a challenge, but
 give them a try and enjoy 
photographing your creations!