Recycling your images

Do you ever stare at your image files on the computer screen and think that while they're "okay", perhaps they could be better? Or do you ever suffer from the photographer's version of Writer's Block and can't find anything to shoot?

I sometimes study my images and try to come up with a way to make the not-so-special shot a bit more interesting - here's where recycling comes in. For me, recycling usually involves arranging a composite by utilizing elements of more than one image.

This came in handy recently when I'd been at the beach shooting one of my whippets - I had a few decent photos of him running towards me, but I wanted to make an image that could create a little more impact - so I took four of those shots, cut him out of three of them using Topaz Remask, and inserted the extra three into the fourth photo. I wasn't completely sure it would be accepted but I thought I'd at least venture forth and submit it.

To my complete amazement, not only was it accepted, it was given an Editor's Choice!

I've been experimenting lately with a few composites - this shot of a cabin on the beach was made up of two shots - the beach, which had dogs in it that needed to be cloned out, and a boat shed that was originally photographed on the edge of a lake. The beauty of composites is that we can decide ourselves exactly where to place compositional elements - we often don't have that luxury when out shooting, we can only try to find the most pleasing angle and try to work with that.

This shot is also a composite of two photos - a derelict farm house and a young girl who was originally photographed against a backdrop of a pine plantation. In this instance I've done some extra processing as well, adding a sepia, desaturated appearance to convey age and what the image is supposed to be about - poverty. I felt the muted tones would work well and was pleased with the final result.

The earth in the hand image is compiled of three shots - the hand, which was originally holding a dark blue rubber ball, the background, which was sea grass against a backdrop of ocean, which I blurred in Photoshop to give an out of focus appearance, and the earth itself, courtesy of the NASA website.

This image of the full moon against a meadow is two shots - the meadow, which on its own was rejected (too boring, perhaps) and another NASA image, the moon. I added some extra processing here to bring out the richness of the colors, and upon submitting the boring meadow this time (with the new addition of the moon), the shot was accepted.

I have quite a few composites in my Creative gallery now. I find that searching my library for images that will couple together well helps me on those days where I do get the creative blahs and either can't get out to shoot, or don't know where to go to shoot, or really don't feel that much inspiration to shoot. Sometimes it helps to brainstorm a few themes, and dig through my image library to see what elements might be relevant and work well into that theme.

Recycling images means I can still upload, even if I can't get out to shoot. When first studying the images after a shoot, before being too quick with the delete button, I find it's handy to hang onto shots providing the quality is acceptable, because I never know when some element within an image might help me with a composite later on down the track.

Composites aren't for everyone, of course - some folks prefer only working with images straight from the camera...but for those of you who like to dabble a bit with Photoshop, this is a great way to recycle the boring and perhaps create something really special. :)

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March 01, 2013

Lehmanphotos

Excellent descriptions and information, thanks for posting.

September 16, 2011

Afagundes

Very nice indeed, congrats!

September 15, 2011

Szczepko



WOW.

August 24, 2011

pic.r

Hi Tamara, that is great work, excellent PS skills!

I've never done it for stock, but I've tried it for fun - I did a very basic panorama composite of my "triplets" running on the beach - in fact I have only one child. It was effective ("kid 1" on the dune top, "kid 2" just touching the surf, and "kid 3" already in the water) but I've done it mostly to amuse her, and it worked.

Thank you for sharing - your work is very inspirational!

July 15, 2011

Tamarabauer

Thanks again everyone! :)

July 15, 2011

Yelo34

I really admire your work and skills. The composites are amazing. Anyway, the last paragraph is also vital if you want to compensate time inverted and return.

July 13, 2011

Socalbatgal

Your blog is a great read. I can relate to photographers' block. Thanks for sharing. You're an inspiration.

July 10, 2011

Yellowind

Thanks for your activity and articles, you're doing great!

Have you a question, but don't know how to write personally. Just want to know the technical thinks how to manage my own picture collection - I see you have one: religious, kids in sport, creative and so on... will ya tell me? I'd grateful :)

June 29, 2011

Blacjack

Yeah, indeed a great ideea :D!

June 29, 2011

BCritchley

Great tips and advice, thanks for sharing :-)

June 29, 2011

Hunor83

Interesting.

June 29, 2011

Tamarabauer

Hi Tamara, really nice of you to contribute your blog and thoughts, some nice ideas here, just an observation on compilation of images to be wary of, I picked up what we call chinese shadows in the derelict farm house and young girl, shadows left on house, shadows right on girl, keep your light source consistant in compilations. Dont mean to upset you, just trying to be helpful.

Someone is on the ball, well spotted! Many thanks for the heads up, I really appreciate it - I hadn't noticed that myself at the time but it's certainly important to keep in mind for future compositions!

June 29, 2011

Tamarabauer

This is great advice. I did successfully composite two of my photos and it worked. It helps if the two photos do not interfere with each other too much. Here is an example:

Defending Freedom


That is a GREAT example of a WOW image, well done!!

June 29, 2011

Tamarabauer

What an ADORABLE little girl that is in your Creative gallery! Must be nice to have such a fun and creative little model.

Hi, and thank you! Yes, she is a great little model indeed, very natural but quirky. Thanks for your comments :)

June 28, 2011

Silvavj

Hi Tamara, really nice of you to contribute your blog and thoughts, some nice ideas here, just an observation on compilation of images to be wary of, I picked up what we call 'chinese shadows' in the derelict farm house and young girl, shadows left on house, shadows right on girl, keep your light source consistant in compilations. Dont mean to upset you, just trying to be helpful.

June 28, 2011

Ustel65

Really very nice images and wonderful works. Congrats and thanks

June 28, 2011

Oleschwander

Great pictures and good ideas. May I ask - can one use pictures from NASA and sell them - also for advertising? I just wonder.

June 25, 2011

Tan510jomast

Yes, so true. I am finding the same thing , and with good results too. eg. I was cleaning up my archives to transfer my shoots to a portable hard disk when I noticed some summer shots of a model I did some 2 years ago. I post processed three and got an instant sale at another site. Did the same with another model, and got yet another sale.
So I am now pulling up my old files to do some new concepts with them.
Cheers from Canada :)

June 25, 2011

Marcovarro

thanks is really useful to share your experience,I love your photos, and for sure in this monthly assignment you were my favourite! congratulations:)

June 25, 2011

Shootalot

This is great advice. I did successfully composite two of my photos and it worked. It helps if the two photos do not interfere with each other too much. Here is an example:

Defending Freedom

June 24, 2011

Danielal

Thank you! Your pictures are fantastic and very inspiring. It's time to improve my Photoshop skills and have a look in old photos.

June 24, 2011

Neirfy

very interesting 0 thank you very much for share!

June 23, 2011

Cmarshall717

What an ADORABLE little girl that is in your Creative gallery! Must be nice to have such a fun and creative little model.

June 23, 2011

Vwimage

Your images are very inspiring. Thanks for the helpful advice. Time to dig into the archives I think :)

June 23, 2011

Tamarabauer

How can I be in the plane when I`m outside taking the picture? :-)

Tripod and remote release? Hahaha...

June 23, 2011

Wisconsinart

Nice shot Wisconsinart! Is that you flying? ;-)

How can I be in the plane when I'm outside taking the picture? :-)

June 23, 2011

Livingstonatlarge

Very helpful and inspiring. I was wondering if these types of images would be accepted.
Thanks!

June 23, 2011

Karenfoleyphotography

Fascinating results, thanks for the tips.

June 23, 2011

Tamarabauer

Nice shot Wisconsinart! Is that you flying? ;-)

June 23, 2011

TMarchev

Yeah nice !

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Photo credits: Tamara Bauer.