Compositing the HDR portrait – Topaz Remask 3
I was challenged to do this by a few people, last week a Long Island Photography group asked if it was possible (most said no). Then this week, a friend sent me a link to Joel Grimes and his commercial work blending HDR and sports photography and kind of challenged me to see what it would look like if I did it. (Never challenge me)
I’ve had this idea for almost a year now but I had a different vision for it, which I still will try next weekend when I have a model for a different reason but if we have spare time I will try my other method. But inspired by the above I thought I would give an HDR Portrait a whirl using compositing of two images using Topaz Remask 3 to make the selection masking process as easy and precise as possible.
First let’s take a look at out two images.
Our background: this was an image I shot in San Diego’s Balboa Park a little over a year ago. It is a 3 exposure HDR, finished in Photomatix Pro.
The Model Image was shot two months prior when I was shooting images for my book, How to Take Great Photos. It is a standard photograph shot using OCF
Topaz Adjust 5
The first thing I did was take my background image and it needed more of an HDR look to it…yes I actually wanted to grunge it up a bit. I could have started from scratch and reprocessed the image in Photomatix, this time with a heavier hand. But I knew that wasn’t really necessary as I had a tool that would do it with much less work: Topaz Adjust 5
I opened the image in Photoshop, duplicated the background and then used my plug-in for Topaz Adjust 5. I went to the HDR Presets and selected HDR Heavy Pop Grunge. This provided just the look I was after
With my background image as I wanted it, it was time to move to my Model Portrait of lovely Noelle and to start the masking process for a smooth and precise selection
Topaz Remask 3
Opening the image in Topaz Remask 3, It was a simple task of painting red what I wanted to remove, painting green what I wanted to keep and using the Blue Compute brush to paint a line around the subject to compute what stayed and what went
After about 15 minutes to really get things right, slowly refining the mask till it was perfect. I had the mask I needed for the selection
Bringing it back into Photoshop, here is the selected image of our model Noelle.
After a few adjustments it was time to drag our model onto ourBalboaParkbackground. Using the move tool, I simply dragged the selection onto our background image. At this point I needed to mirror flip her so that she was facing the right direction to fit into our scene. I did that with Edit>Transform> Flip horizontal. Then, again using the move tool, positioned her where I wanted in the frame.
At this point she really wasn’t blending well into the scene so I thought she needed a little HDR look to her too. I duplicated the layer and again I returned to Topaz Adjust 5 but this time I went a little lighter handed and used one of the Vibrant Collection presets: Detail – Strong.
Now she had the detail I wanted to match the background but she still didn’t blend with the tone of the image as much as I would have liked. So I used a trick I showed you a year ago when I did the shoot at the harbor. I duplicated the model layer again and this time opened Topaz BW effects and selected the Platinum preset.
I then turned the color layer above back on and changed the opacity of the color level to about 65%. Now she seemed to blend in pretty well, but I still wanted her to look more natural because going too far can highlight things that are not flattering to a woman.
After a few tweaks here and there with position, and a little use of the blur tool around some of the edges and a little dodging and burning. I had the look I wanted for the image
The last step was to take a soft brush and some dark gray set to a medium opacity and on a new layer add some shadows behind her feet to make her blend in better
At this point I though it best if the image was cropped but I couldn’t decide which way I should crop it to 8 x 10 proportions, so I did both.
You tell me.
I hope you enjoyed that. It actually was a lot of fun and challenging to do. I haven’t been a fan of compositing, preferring to do all my work in camera. But I am happy with the results and of course I really can’t resist a challenge from anyone.
Hope that helps,