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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos RAW, Post Processing & Printing
Thread started 30 Oct 2017 (Monday) 17:04
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Question about composite group photos...

 
a_roadbiker
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Post has been edited 18 days ago by a_roadbiker.
Oct 30, 2017 17:04 |  #1

Greetings,

I was recently hired by one of my Real Estate clients to photograph her team photo. Last year we did it in an office and it turned out really good, but this year she wanted something different. In addition to turnover and a growing staff, she wanted all of the team members photographed individually against a white background so we can composite members into a single photo, and add or subtract members as the team changes over time (she actually asked about a green screen, but I assured her that white works just as well). I got all of the photos and they turned out really good, and now my next step will be making the background transparent and storing the mask of each individual so I can composite them. I'm fine with the masking, but I'm not exactly sure how to save the masks so I don't have to make new ones every time I have to recompose the group photo. So far I have masked the subject, pasted it on a new transparent background, and saved the new photo as a PNG file, which preserves the transparency, but I can't imagine that there is not a way in Photoshop to save the mask as a layer in the PSD file. Am I wrong? Am I going in the right direction?

Also, I know what I am charging them for the individual portraits, but I have not idea what to charge for the composite, and every time I change it in the future.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks so much,
Jim


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jra
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Oct 31, 2017 10:55 |  #2

I'm not quite sure what you're asking. I'm familiar with making composite images similar to what you're doing. I just create a mask, refine the edge and create a new layer with mask. Save as a PSD and I'm done with that image. The mask is saved and the image can easily be dropped onto another background at any time without having to mess with the mask.




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kirkt
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Oct 31, 2017 11:07 |  #3

TIFF also supports alpha channels, which control transparency. Make your mask, copy and paste it into a new channel and save the file+alpha channel as a TIFF. This way it is saved as a non-photoshop file format if you need that level of workflow flexibility.

kirk


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Jethr0
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Oct 31, 2017 11:17 |  #4

What’s your hourly rate?

How,long would it take to re-jig the group photo every Time?


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MalVeauX
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Oct 31, 2017 11:41 |  #5

Why no just save a PSD photoshop file with the masks and name them and disable the ones that are not in the composite. One file with all the information. Add layers & masks with new portraits as they roll in. Rearrange and disable masks/layers not being used any more. One rolling file.

Very best,


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DagoImaging
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Nov 01, 2017 08:51 |  #6

My process would be:
1. create a mask on each individual file for the cutout of the person...save a tiff or psd, your choice
2. create your composite image (tiff/psd) and place your individual images on it....drag/drop the individual onto the composite image w/ it's mask
3. move and place your subjects accordingly
4. put your background in and save the image.

For future edits it would simply be adding a new and/or removing those layers (individual) not needed and adjusting individual masks for overlap of subjects.


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kirkt
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Post has been last edited 16 days ago by kirkt. 7 edits done in total.
Nov 01, 2017 10:21 |  #7

To refine the file format discussion a little:

Let's use the following image file as an example - Canon 5DIII full-res image, shot raw and converted to a 16bit TIFF in ACR. This is the base image, for example, the shot against the white backdrop or a chromakey green or blue screen , etc. It will contain the subject plus background - you can make edits, color correction, etc in the raw conversion process or afterwards in PS to make this portrait consistent with the look and lighting of the others in the composite.

The resulting image file is 5760 x 3840 pixels ( the landscape or portrait orientation is more or less irrelevant).

If you save this as a Photoshop PSD file: 132.7 MB;
TIFF file w/ no compression: 132.7 MB;
TIFF w/ LZW compression: 147.4 MB (strange);
TIFF w/ ZIP compression 120.6 MB.

Okay, fair enough. Next, do a rough rectangular crop to isolate the subject with some background surrounding the subject - this will be the archival master image for this subject - you can use this master image to make your mask and isolate the subject from the background. In my example, I made a rough crop that resulted in an mage size that was 1906 pixels wide by 2773 pixels high (a portrait orientation crop).

Master file sizes:

PSD - 31.8 MB
TIFF - ZIP compression - 28.6 MB

Then, use the pen tool or whatever other masking tools to make a tracing around the subject that can be made into a grayscale mask to precisely extract the subject from the background.

The decision is then, do you make the grayscale mask a layer mask or an alpha channel? To apply the grayscale mask as a layer mask, you need to make the background image into a layer and then apply the grayscale as a layer mask.

Resulting file sizes:

PSD with the background made into a layer, grayscale image applied as a layer mask: 95.2 MB

Or, you can work with a flattened image (no layers) and save the grayscale image as an alpha channel:

PSD with flattened background, grayscale image saved as alpha channel: 42.3 MB

TIFF with flat background, grayscale image saved as alpha channel: 42.3 MB
TIFF with flat background, grayscale image saved as alpha channel, LZW compression: 38.9 MB
TIFF with flat background, grayscale image saved as alpha channel, ZIP compression: 31.8 MB

You can also apply the grayscale as a layer mask and save the whole thing as a PNG with the most compression: 15 MB;

however, you will not be able to edit the mask after you save it like this. So, using the PNG approach is like making the mask into a selection, cutting the image out using the selection and pasting it into a new document. There is no way to go back and edit the selection to expand and include the original bits that were removed (for example, say you got better at making selections and you wanted to refine the mask).

So, it appears that the most efficient way to save your work is to apply a rough crop to the full-res image (this will make the overall file size smaller). Then make your mask to extract the subject from the background and save the resulting file as a PSD or TIFF, with the grayscale mask as an alpha channel inside that file - if you used the pen tool to make the path around the subject, use a PSD as this will also save the path created with the pen tool. Use ZIP compression if saving as a TIFF. This will give you the masked image to composite, but preserve the surrounding background should you ever need to go back and refine the mask.

Hope this helps.

Kirk

All file formats should preserve EXIF data if you choose to do so. In the end, you will have each original photographic file (a raw file, for example), each corresponding archival rough crop with an embedded mask as an alpha channel (and possibly a pen tool path, if saved as PSD) destined for the composite, and the composite that you will edit to include the various masked portraits as layers (master composite, plus working variants for each change).


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Peano
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Nov 01, 2017 17:05 |  #8

I would mask out the background for each subject and then apply the mask and save each as a separate PSD file (first image below). No need for masks at all, because when subjects are placed on separate layers, they will automatically overlap without any masking.
An important refinement: When you overlap subjects, you might need to create soft shadows on the "rear" person as illustrated in the second image below.

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a_roadbiker
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Nov 01, 2017 19:12 |  #9

Thanks so much for all of the great replies! This is really helpful!

All the best, Jim


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Question about composite group photos...
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