Composite Portraits

The team at Corduroy Media specializes in producing powerful photography from concept to completion – for commercial, editorial, corporate, or non-profit projects.

We don’t like to tell all our secrets, but we’ll loosen up a little bit to illustrate what we mean when we say we take projects “from concept to completion.”

For one recent project, we started with the idea of the power electricity. It’s a big idea, and an old one, too. Some of the standard images (of televisions, computers, appliances) could have worked if we weren’t so obsessed with providing new perspectives on old ideas.

We decided to focus on how electricity has the power to connect people everywhere and to bring newer technologies and educational tools to the far reaches of the world.

While on a shoot in San Francisco, we took a shot of Pier 5, exposing the lights for 13 seconds.  As the center focus of the shot, and bright from the exposure, we thought the pier lights would provide exactly the emphasis we needed for our concept.

But we knew that wouldn’t be enough.  We’d decided a woman with a lit bulb in her hands would provide the element of human connection that would pull the whole thing together.  On our casting search, we came across Kellie McLennan, a local model.  Her expressive face was just what we were looking for.

Curious about the technical aspects?  Here they are, represented as a mathematical equation (just for fun):

Octabox (high key light) + ringflash (fill) + octabox (edge light) + 1/8 second shutter speed (for bright bulb and soft orange glow on Kellie’s face) = Beautiful Image of Woman Holding Bulb.

And then it was time for compositing.

Magnetic lasso (to select Kellie’s image) + quickmask mode (to refine the selection) + cut and paste (to place Kellie on the pier) + blur tool and feather (to soften the edges) = Beautiful Image of Woman Holding Bulb on Pier.

Now you know one of our secrets…