Creating an Unusual “Landscape Portrait”

Portraiture and landscape photography are two very different genres. But have you ever thought about joining them into one? In today’s article I’ll take a look at using multiple exposures to create a picture made up of both a portrait and a landscape. It’s basically a simple photo montage. We already know from past articles that replacing skies is easy in Zoner Photo Studio, and now we’ll see the same is true for combining multiple photos into one.

The most important step is taking and picking the photos. That’s because not just any two photos will work well together.

For a “landscape portrait” like this, you’ll want a portrait—ideally against a white background—and a photo of trees with a bright sky above them, along with some texture in those trees or in the landscape overall, to fill out the picture.

Preparing the Portrait

In this edit you mainly care about outlines. And so you need a photo with striking outlines. You can get the best outlines using a pure white background. If you’ll be shooting against a lighted white background in a studio, you can skip ahead in this text a bit. But if, like me, you don’t have access to a studio, you can try the following edits instead.

I took this photo in “field conditions” against a white wall in daylight. But the wall was far from white, and so I needed to make some edits.

The original photo, without edits Nikon D7000, Nikon 35mm f/1.8.

The original photo, without edits
Nikon D7000, Nikon 35mm f/1.8.

I then brightened the photo, added contrast to it, and made it black and white.

But the background was still gray, and so I selected it using the magic wand and brightened the selected area until the background was pure white.

Selecting the background and brightening.

Selecting the background and brightening.

I improved the composition a bit by adding a white frame at the left edge. This also let me double-check that the background was really white, with no transition between the frame and the background.

Adding a frame on the left.

Adding a frame on the left.

Adding the Second Picture

In the next step, you add the background picture, whose main purpose will be to replace the edges of the subject’s hair with treetops. Because of this, it’s important that the tree photo has been edited in a way that makes the trees form strong dark outlines, with the brightest possible sky above them.

Use Place Image in Zoner Photo Studio to place this photo inside your portrait. In the example, I haven’t made any major adjustments—I just added a Black Point and shifted the Lights to make the outlines more visible.

Adding the second photo.

Adding the second photo.

The next step is critically important; it’s the core of the whole edit. I use Screen mode for blending the tree picture into the portrait. Thanks to this, only the trees’ silhouettes are visible, and the sky is white.

Transforming the photo and setting Screen mode.

Transforming the photo and setting Screen mode.

Before clicking Apply to finish placing the tree image, I remove the parts that are a poor fit for the picture. After all, I don’t want e.g. people walking around inside of my subject.

I’ll add texture to the other parts separately. So the treetop silhouettes are enough for me.

For this work, I used the Selection Brush in Remove from Selection mode. I turned this mode on temporarily by holding down Ctrl as I worked with the Brush.

Removing unwanted areas.

Removing unwanted areas.

Adding a Texture

For the purposes of the double exposure, it would be better here if the subject were naked. That’s because her t-shirt and pants stand out and are distracting in the photo. So I’ll try to make these “less-natural elements” at least a bit more natural by enhancing them with the texture from a nature photo.

In short, I’ll be laying a photo over the portrait again—using the same process as before.

I’ll be using this photo to give the rest of the subject’s body a natural texture.

Adding another picture (with a castle).

Adding another picture (with a castle).

Here again I transform the picture to suit my needs. The castle itself doesn’t work here, so I leave only the water, rocks, and trees. And most importantly, I set the Mode to Overlay. That way, the texture is only shown in non-white areas, thus smoothing out the sharp transition between the clothes and the body.

Overlay mode.

Overlay mode.

I don’t like the blue sky tone in the face, so I then use Shift Colors to desaturate the blue.

Subtracting blue.

Subtracting blue.

The hand feels fairly dark to me, and so I click around it with a white Paintbrush at maximum Blur a few times. This gives me a smoother transition from the surroundings—and it can also hide a lot of distracting details.

Concealing details.

Concealing details.

I could leave the picture in color, but I arrived at the opinion that black and white would be better. It makes the lines stand out better, and gives the result a smoother feel.

The final black-and-white version.

The final black-and-white version.

Why Use Multiple Exposures at All?

This is a fairly specific kind of edit. It connects the unconnected and creates strange shapes.

But it’s precisely the ability to meld things that do or don’t belong together that makes multiple exposures a very creative tool. My picture has no deeper meaning (except for the connection of humans to nature), but I’m confident that you’ll come with ideas about where a double exposure can create a full story within one picture.

Like how this picture was done? Download Zoner Photo Studio and use it free for 30 days to try out the same technique on your own photos.

 

Last updated 8. June 2016

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Author: Matej Liska

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