Editor’s Note: Each week we’ll be featuring members of the Photofocus community.  Part of our New Year’s resolution is to focus on new and emerging talent.  As such, Melissa Niu will personally select images from our readers and feature them here on Photofocus.

A lot of people have asked me about my composite image featuring my step-daughter. Coki is in her first year of cross-country skiing  at Colony High School here in Wasilla, Alaska. She is doing great as a freshman and has already skied for the varsity team. I wanted to get some photos of her and the trails we ski, but it has been difficult. This has been a terrible year for snow, the trails look awful and the weather has not cooperated.

I wanted to try a technique developed by Joel Grimes so I set up the basement studio with 2 backlights and 1 giant light in the front. I am only using my speedlites triggered with Yongnou YN-622Cs in manual mode. I have a white backdrop to make it easy to extract Coki for a composite. We tried a variety of poses where she is smiling but I like the serious look in the final product.

The background image was from a HDR that I took 4 years ago. I did not like the photo because of the serious vignette and some serious dust on the sensor. Nothing like shooting at f14 into the sun to find a dirty sensor.

Skier Composite
To see more of Mike’s work, go to or follow him on Facebook.

If you would like your photo featured, read this article.

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Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. The image looked all fakey when I first saw it. After I read the commentary, I understand why, it is all fakey. So why does it look fakey? 1> The light is all wrong. The sun is behind her left ear and her face is over-lit, mainly from her left front. 2> Her face is over processed, maybe a bit too much Clarity, causing fakey shadows.

    Having said all that, I’ll bet she loves it.

  2. Love this. All of it. I thought it was real and really appreciate the editing. Very nice!


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Featured Photo, HDR, Landscape, Photography, Portrait, Shooting, Sports, Your Focus