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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wild Exposures

Multilayered silhouettes that explore new territory in self-portraiture

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Creating multiple exposures is a trend that's getting a lot of attention in the photography world lately. I've seen multiple-exposure photographs pop up everywhere, from Flickr to 500px, and I really love the way they look. These images, created by combining multiple images into one, can be done in-camera with some camera models, as well as after the fact in Photoshop. Most of the multiple exposures I've seen have been a combination of portraits with landscapes and cityscapes, but you might use any combination of images to suit your idea or style.

I recently read the book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, and I was inspired to create a multiple-exposure series combining self-portraits with photos of nature. I feel like, in this day and age, we've started to lose connection to our roots with nature, and I wanted to bring attention to that connection.

I usually start out by taking some simple self-portraits against a plain backdrop. Next up comes the fun part: deciding what nature photo I want to combine with myself. The way I like to do this is by going out to a local park and walking down the nature trails. While I'm walking, I really take my time and look at the different shapes formed by the trees and plants, and take photos of each thing I find interesting. When I get home, I open each nature image in Photoshop and play around until I like how it looks.

The next step is combining the photos. Here's how.

1. Select the images to combine. You'll need at least two, but may use as many as you like. I normally take a portrait on a plain background, and take a second image with a lot of negative space near the top, such as an open sky.

2. Retouch the portrait, and if need be, cut it from the background and place it on a white background. Selecting the subject can be done with the Quick Selection tool, Pen tool or whichever tool you like to use. Once selected, use Photoshop's Refine Edge tool to tweak the selection until it looks clean and realistic; place it on a new layer with a mask.

3. On a new layer, bring in the second photo. I like to use a landscape shot with lots of sky or a cityscape. Anything can work.

4. With the landscape shot layer selected, go to Image > Adjustments > Replace Color. Use the Replace Color controls to select parts of the sky and make them all white. You may have to do this a few times to get the whole sky white.

5. Once you have the sky white, change the Blend mode of the landscape layer to Screen. You now can move the photo around to the spot you like best.

6. Lastly, edit the contrast and levels to your liking and style. You also can add textures to give the photo more character. I like to add a cloud texture to all of mine, just for more atmosphere.

7. Now, get out, take photos, and have fun!

Dru Lester is a 24-year-old fine-art, fashion and portrait photographer. See more of his work at y3rphotography.4ormat.com. You also can find him on Facebook at facebook.com/y3rphotography.

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