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How would you do this?


New Member
Hi everyone! So this is my first time posting! Yay! Ok... I was wondering if i could get any help on this. So i came across this picture

Hopefully this comes up ok. From looking at the picture it seems like the man was added in and the shading detail under him was done in an photo editing suit. My questions is how do you think the creator managed to keep such a good contrast between the two pictures? Was it that they were just very high quality images and they just greyscaled it? Apologies if i sound ridiculous, i'm new to the world of photoshop.
I suspect you are right that this is a composite, but first, let's definitely establish that it is. Do you have a larger version of this image? Without it, it will be very difficult to tell if it is a composite.

As it stands, to me, the main clue that PS work was done on the man is that his face is pointed in the same direction as parts of his torso, but yet the face is very bright, but these other areas are very dark. This doesn't mean it's a composite, but it strongly suggests PS work was done on him.

With respect to converting pix to grayscale, the simple, "convert to grayscale" does not work very well. It's better to use a B&W adjustment layer using either the "auto" or "green" setting if the original was reasonably well color balanced.

And, yes, when compositing images, it helps enormously if they are both of very high quality, but even more important is that the directions and quality of the light sources in the two images are similar.

Tom M
There is another aspect of this image that adds some cognitive dissonance -- the lighting. Note that the brightest part of the sky is in the upper RH corner of the photo, i.e., well behind the model. However, the soles of his shoes, the uppers of his shoes, his upturned hand, and his face are all very bright even though these surfaces shouldn't be receiving light at all from the only obvious light source in the picture.

In fact, the light that's lighting the bottoms of his shoes is so strong that it is casting strong shadows on his rumpled clothing as well as a shadow above his head (i.e., in the direction of the nearest water). While this multiple lighting effect could be simulated in PS to some extent, I would bet that it was done with lighting at the time of the exposure. No matter how it was done, it certainly does give the image an air of surrealism.

The second aspect of note is the strong local contrast in the rocks on the beach and in the texture of the water/waves, but that there is much less local contrast on his face. This is completely appropriate. Bringing out that much texture in the rocks and water adds drama, but would be way too much for his face. IMHO, this was almost certainly done in PS (by any of several methods).

Anyway, just some more thoughts on this interesting image.

Tom M
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Thanks everyone! This was a great help! I didn't actually think that an image like this would had so many touch-ups like what Tom described, especially all the details surrounding the lighting. I really like the contrast in the pebbles and the sea in the background, and wanted to recreate something along the same line. Thanks for the information, now i know the right lines about how to go about it. I really appreciate it.