Strategy for Photoshop Composites

The Importance of Light: How to Make a Photo More Exciting - and Marketable

by Jim Zuckerman

Before (Spis Castle)
Before (Spis Castle)
© Jim Zuckerman
All Rights Reserved
Lighting is so important when you put pictures together in Photoshop. Here is an example of my thinking in this matter.

The photo at the right - Before (Spis Castle) - was taken in Slovakia, and the weather was very drab. It was lightly raining, and although I like the simplicity of the composition and the rich green, I thought some embellishment would make it a lot more exciting - and salable.

A few days after this picture was taken, I found an incredible field of red European poppies and, fortunately, the day was overcast.


After (Spis Castle)
After (Spis Castle)
© Jim Zuckerman
All Rights Reserved
I had seen fields of poppies lit by direct sunlight, but I knew I couldn't use that type of lighting for the castle shot. You can't combine a sunny foreground with a background taken in soft and even lighting.

The diffused light on the field of flowers was perfect to mesh with the castle taken in the rain, and you can see in the composite below that the lighting looks correct. I added a stormy sky because this, also, looks like it belongs here.

Notice also how I used the natural slope of the foreground grass to insert the flowers. I had taken many shots of the poppies with various focal lengths to make sure I had an image that would fit nicely into a new environment. In this case, the field was taken with a 24mm lens -- the same lens I used for the castle.


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About Author / Instructor / Photographer, Jim Zuckerman
Photography Instructor: Jim ZuckermanFew people are able to spend most of their time pursuing their passion in life. I'm one of them, and I feel blessed to have had a love affair with photography since I began taking pictures.

In 1970, I decided to abort my intended career as a doctor in favor of photography and have never regretted it. Photography has enriched my life more than I can tell you. My career has taken me to over 60 countries, and I've seen and photographed wondrous things.

I specialize in wildlife and nature, international travel, and digital effects. In addition, I also shoot nudes, photo- and electron microscopy, children, and other subjects that stimulate my visual or emotional sensibilities.

For 25 years, I shot a medium format camera, specifically the Mamiya RZ 67, for its superior quality. When I would lecture, Id project the large, glass mounted transparencies, and it was really an incredible experience to see the brilliant color saturation and resolution of these slides. However, I went digital in 2004 because the technology finally equaled or surpassed medium format. I now shoot the Canon 1Ds Mark II digital camera with a variety of lenses.

I am the author of 12 books on photography. My work is sold in 30 countries around the world, and my images have appeared on scores of magazine and book covers, calendars, posters, national ads, trade ads, brochures, and corporate promotions.

For many years I've led photography tours to exotic places. These include Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Burma, Greece, The Czech Republic and Slovakia, Spain, Morocco, and Peru.