Each year about a month before Halloween I take my girls to Joann’s Fabrics and let them pick patterns and fabrics for their Halloween costumes. This year they chose really easy patterns to make and I picked an easy one for my baby boy also, so it was a relatively stress free time making the costumes. However, I ended up with an angel, a fortune teller, and a pirate – a tough combo to make a “meaningful” Halloween photo with. It took me a long time and many discarded ideas before I came across some really cool digital backgrounds at fantasybackgroundsstore.com and got hooked on the thought of creating a sort of a fantasy composite. This is the image I decided to purchase and use as the background for my composite:
When I saw the image, I knew I wanted to have my pirate and fortune teller look into a treasure chest full of money/jewelry down on the bottom of the staircase and my angel up top looking down at them. I studied the image for hours before I felt confident to actually go in the studio and set up the lights to take the images I needed of my kiddos. First up were the pirate and fortune teller with their treasure chest. I own a sort of a treasure chest-looking chest, but it seemed silly to even try to fill just the top of it with coins and jewelry because it is simply too big and would require a large number of coins to make them visible, so I decided to place a speedlight with a yellow gel on the bottom of the chest pointing up to simulate the glow of coins from the chest. This is the shot I ended up using of them:
I spent about a day on and off cutting out my kids from the image and blending them into the background. It was tough, because I did not get the lights 100% right on my fortune teller in the studio, so I ended up having to add some light on the right side of the background where there was none before.
Once I was relatively happy with how my two younger ones looked on the background, I went back in the studio to get a shot of my angel. I decided to use a blue gel behind her to make it look more natural on the final image with the cold’ish moonlight behind her. This is the image I settled on for her:
Cutting around the feathers on her halo and wings, and the little stray hairs on her head was a real pain and took forever. I was quite grateful for having at some point a year ago or so purchased Topaz Labs’ ReMask Photoshop plug-in. I have yet to master cutting difficult things out in straight Photoshop since I rarely have the need to do that, and I think that the ReMask really helped me out here a lot.
Once my angel was on the photo and nicely blended in on the top of the stairs, the image was still lacking something – the coins in the chest. After realizing that there was no way I was going to fill that big chest with coins, I had purchased a tiny chest from Michaels, and I was planning on filling that with little coins, taking a photo of it, and then swapping the big chest out with the little one (blown up of course) on the final composite. But then I got lazy after having worked on the composite for two days and decided to just find a photo of coins on the internet and blend it in on the top of the chest. I ended up picking this image:
My final image would have been better had I gone with my original plan about the coins, but at the end of the day, only I know how perfectly awesome the image was in my head compared to reality. And, as it is, the final composite is still pretty darn awesome if I may say so myself.
Happy Halloween 2016!