“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
I created this image last August in San Antonio, Texas with child model and actress Emerson Clarke. It was quite a productive shoot, creating over 10 conceptual images in one evening (many I have yet to complete and share).
We created this image in about 10 or so mins. Like I’ve mentioned before I like the art of improvisation and thus the evening, though exhausting was a whirlwind of activity.
I had no intention for this image to pay homage to Alice in Wonderland but was rather a happy accident. I found the dress at a thrift store in Virginia while shopping with my Sister-in-Law.
Emerson’s accessories, including the pocket watch were items her and her mother happened to bring with them to the shoot – as I asked several of the models to bring whatever interesting props and items they may have at home. It’s lovely when things just come together!
So, let’s move on, since you came here to see the breakdown of the composite.
Photography by Niki Aguirre
Model Emerson Clarke
Assistance by David Aguirre
"A shout out to my baby brother Davy Aguirre … Happy Birthday! Thank you for helping me on so many of my shoots (including this one), for being one of my best friends and for inspiring me with your creativity! I love you beyond words!"
Before and After of “An Invitation for One”
Part I: Capturing and Stitching
Creating the Background
Creating the Character
The character is a three image composite. Here are the series of images showing the build up of the character – body, hair, skirt.
And the larger than life watch that isn’t so impressive just yet.
Part II: Bringing it all together in Photoshop
Phase 1: Bringing the character into her scene.
Phase 2: I wasn’t very excited about the distracting background, so I mirrored the grassy alleyway. Considering the majority of the alleyway would be hidden by the watch, the mirroring wouldn’t be obvious nor a problem, but rather frame the incoming pocket watch nicely.
Phase 3: Typically I would use the quick select tool in order to “cut out” an object, but in this case I did it by hand via layer mask. There were edges that photoshop was having trouble with, even with refine edge. I also used the transform tool to adjust the clock’s size and tilt.
I darkened and selectively shaded areas in the image to draw attention toward the character using a curve adjustment with layer mask. If you are new to masking, head over to my tutorial, The Making of “Yearning” Levitation Tutorial
where it is further mentioned.
Phase 5: Using replace color along with layer masks I painted in color, in addition to using curves and color balance to warm up the image. I began bringing forward the grass that was already in the background via a layer mask in addition to building it up more via the clone stamp tool. I also used the clone stamp to clean up and remove branding on the watch.
Completion: Lastly to finish the image, I added texture selectively throughout, via the blending mode of overlay and soft light changing it’s opacity to taste. I continued to shade (darken) certain areas of the image to bring more drama to the scene via curve adjustments and masking. Reflections on the clock were added to bring the clock further into the scene heightening it’s credibility. To do so, I used the clone stamp tool and adjusted it’s opacity.
Have a Lovely Day!
Hope you enjoyed the composite breakdown of my photo, “An Invitation for One”. If you want to see more posts like this tell me! I take your messages and comments very seriously and will respond. Do not feel shy to write.
Coming soon, is a post about self portraiture, and two tutorials on size manipulation and Photoshop’s replace color.