Composite Image Tutorial Involving a Chrome Surface

Photography often involves envisioning a photograph before you’ve snapped the photo. This is especially true for commercial photography, as clients and photographers will usually discuss their ideas and work from there. At some point you may find that the image you envisioned is impossible to shoot in a single frame. The Slanted Lens met this situation when asked to shoot a specific image for a magazine ad: the reflection of a truck driver in the driver’s side mirror among a downtown background. They resolved to create the image by taking multiple photographs and creating a composite image in post production:

An added challenge for this assignment was shooting a chrome mirror. Since the surface is reflective, the light source shouldn’t be direct. This called for diffusing the light from a Dynalight Strobe Head by reflecting it off of a Photoflex P22 LitePanel reflector. They placed a tree branch on the reflector panel to make the lighting look more authentic, as it it were shining through trees.

composite photography chrome mirror surface

Individual parts of the composite image were shot in multiple ways for more image-processing options. For instance, the background scene was shot at higher and lower exposures so that HDR would be an option.

The next step involved shooting an image of the driver’s reflection in the mirror. They placed another mirror in front of the chrome mirror in order to place that image within the frame of the chrome mirror in post production. The lighting on the driver looks as if it is direct sunlight; this effect was made possible with the Photoflex Softbox wrapped around the light.

The final two elements of the image were then shot: the background without the mirror and the front of the truck. Because the truck they had been working with had no nose, they shot a different truck at another location to be able to add this aspect of the image later. The images were then combined into a seamless composite.

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