about this image

Created for a Christian singer/songwriter to help promote a new album release, this might very well be my favorite composite of my entire portfolio. A number of different elements came together seamlessly in this shot, from the striking symbolism of an abandoned church to the forlorn appearance and body language of my subject. I also think that on a technical level it works really well, and might be the most believable composite I've ever done.

strobist info

Two Elinchrom Ranger Quadras and an Alien Bee B1600 were used to light this image; the Quadras were placed in gridded 42x18 softboxes on either side of the subject and slightly behind for rim, and the Alien Bee was placed in a beauty dish boomed overhead as key. The rim lights were approximately two stops hotter than the key.

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tools & gear used

In Photoshop I spent quite a bit of time getting the black and white tones to match up between my subject and the background, using Topaz B&W Effects for all of the conversions. I also spent some time making sure that the shadows on the ground were cast at the proper angle relative to the windows inside the church.

I must admit that I went into this particular project thinking that a composite would be fairly easy and straightforward once color was taken out of the equation, but I soon realized that black & white composites have unique challenges of their own. It was definitely a learning experience for me, but I'm really glad that I pushed through it.

Got a specific question about how this image was shot, lit, or retouched? Got a praise/critique? Leave us a comment below!