This idea has been bubbling around in my head for a few weeks, but I had to get all of my western gear together first; my company is having its annual employee appreciation party and the theme is “Denim and Diamonds” (cocktail attire or upscale western wear).
I got all dressed up and decided to play a poker game….just me and my selves with the cards I ordered from SmugMug with my pretty face on the card cover (my sister says it’s difficult to distinguish that it’s my face on the cards – oh well).
The multiple-image-in-a-single-composition premise is easy. With a caveat.
1. Pick a scene where the background and lighting are not going to change and there will not be any movement. I used my mother’s dining room. I really wanted to find someplace with a poker table and poker room ambience – like the game room in the basement of the San Luis Hotel in Galveston where I photographed the groomsmen for a wedding – but I figured someplace like that would have charged me for the room use. Mom’s dining room was fine.
2. Set up your camera and tripod and frame the area. If you are the subject of the photo, then either have someone else push the shutter button for you, or use a wireless remote (or a shutter release with a very long cord). For the image of me standing, the wireless remote was in my pocket; for the rest of the me’s you see, the remote lay on the floor and I triggered it with my big toe (yeah, seriously).
3. Once you have the images you want, download them to your computer. I opened up the images in Lightroom first and applied the same exact settings to all of them (it helps to have created a Preset), then, I saved them as TIF files.
4. Now, there are several ways to do this next step in Photoshop; I just opened up each file one at a time rather than use the File-Scripts-Load Files Into Stack. The idea is to have all of your image files open at once. You need a background image that you can use as an anchor. That image could be a photo of the room with nobody in it or it could be one of the multiple images captured. That is the option I chose.
Note: to see larger versions of the images below, click on the image.
5. I then went to each of the other photos of me, selected the Rectangular Marquee Tool and drew a box around the image.
6. I copied that image (Ctrl-C).
7. I went back to my anchor photo and pasted (Ctrl-V) the copied image.
8. That pasted image is the one that shows up. If you look at your Layers Panel to the right of your screen, you will see that the pasted image is a Layer.
9. At the bottom of the Layers Panel, select that little icon that kind of looks like a camera (the Create New Layer Mask).
10. Now, look at the Layers Panel and note that beside your newly-pasted photo Layer is a white box; that’s the layer mask.
11. Over on your Tools Panel (the left side of your screen), switch your Foreground and Background so that the black square is on top and the white square is on the bottom.
13. You will see your original anchor photo; your newly-pasted photo is hidden underneath (“masked”).
14. To bring forth just that part of you in the pasted photo, select the Paint Brush from your Tools Panel and start “painting” over the empty space where the next image of you is supposed to show up. Note: you can make the “paint brush” larger or smaller by hitting the bracket keys.
15. Do the same steps above for however many images you took of you, that you want incorporated into a single composition.
Here’s the Caveat:
To allow for an easy process, make sure that each image of you is not overlapping a previous image of you. Notice that the image of me sitting on the right is in front of and a little to the side of the image of me standing against the curtain. I didn’t realized that I was overlapping myself. That caused some difficulty. You see, whenever I “painted” in that image of me standing, I accidentally painted over the image of me sitting. Remember, each photo I took of myself was just a single image with the rest of the room empty. So, by accidentally getting a little too generous with the paint brush, I would paint over an already-existing image, and get a blank spot where I was sitting previously.
After you have all of the players in that one photo, then you can start editing the overall look of the image. To get the kind of old-timey look I wanted, I applied a number of presets from OnOne’s Perfect Effects.
This is an easy, fun process that opens up a lot of creative avenues.