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Color Matching : How I Got the Shot

In today’s installment of How I Got the Shot, let’s look at creating a fantasy shot that couldn’t exist in the real world.

I looked for a location to photograph Princess Leia in a galaxy far, far away and found a perfect Space City. Well, actually, the Space City didn’t exist so I had to search for one. My search lead me to deviantART, a web based community designed to communicate, collaborate and learn from artists from over 190 countries.

It was there I found the perfect Space City for the Princess. I asked the talented artist Cyril from rdnstudio permission to use his image and he graciously said yes. After the photo shoot, I merged the two images using Photoshop. It looked fake. Turning to color match was “How I Got the Shot.”

Quick settings overview

  • Nikon D700
  • Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens
  • Shot at
    • f/8
    • 1/100 sec shutter speed
    • ISO 400
  • WhiBal White Balance Gray Card (capturing proper white balance in camera)

Photographing Kate a.k.a Princess Leia

I met Kate on an earlier project, Lighting Fog : How I Got the Shot. Other than being beautiful, Kate is a freelance commission artist and a graduate from Moore College of Art and Design. She also designs and makes her own outfits, Princess Leia is one of them. It wasn’t hard directing Kate. I asked her how the princess would look and act in a particular situation and Kate would act it out.

Composite in Photoshop

Step 1: Create a new 16:9 wide screen document at 180 ppi by clicking File then select New. Apply these settings.

Step 2: Place the Space City into the new document by clicking File then Place Embedded. Select the Space Image and click Place. Resize the image to fit the new document and double click the center to lock in the change.

Step 3: Repeat the same process for the Princes Leia image. Place and resize Princess Leia into position. Lower the opacity to 50% to see the Space City in the background. When you have the Princes in position, raise the opacity back to 100%.

Step 4: Extract Princess Leia from the white background using the Quick Selection tool. After making your selection, click Refine Edges and tweak the settings. Choose to add a layer mask. Click OK when finished.

Step 5: Color Match the Space City with Princess Leia

  • Duplicate the Space City layer using keyboard shortcut Ctrl-J [PC] Option-J [MAC].
  • Move the copy layer by click and holding the layer as you drag it to the top.
  • Select Soft Light from the layer blend mode drop down list and change the opacity to 50%.
  • Add an Avg Blur by clicking Filter, Blur then select Avg Blur.
  • For a finishing touch, apply a warming Photo filter(85) adjustment layer.

The two images are now Color Matched with a Photo filter adjustment layer adding warmth to the scene. I applied the same technique to images from the shoot achieving he same results.

Added Bonus

If you noticed, each image was “Placed” into the new document causing them to become Smart Objects giving us additional creative choices. This video demonstrates the 5 steps found in this article.


For more “How I Got the Shot” articles, click here

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