Discover how to shoot and combine a series of frames to create a seamless mid-air self-portrait inspired by the master of surreal portraits, Salvador Dali.
For this month’s main tutorial we set out to shoot a mid-air self-portrait inspired by an image of Salvador Dali, taken by one of the greatest-ever portrait photographers, Phillippe Halsman. Halsman captured Dali mid-air among flying cats, canvas, chairs and a plume of water.
Some 28 attempts were needed before the combination of flying objects looked right, with everything having to be cleared and reset after each attempt.
Here, rather than doing it all at once, we’ll show you how to capture several levitating objects separately, then combine the frames in Photoshop using simple masking and selection skills.
How to shoot and edit a surreal portrait: steps 1-3
01 Shoot the images
To shoot images for this effect, use a tripod and keep the focal length, focus point and exposure consistent. We used a remote trigger to fire the shutter.
For lighting, we set the speedlight to act as a slave, then synced the camera to a studio flash.
After shooting the portrait, we captured other objects in mid-air, flagging the light to match the mid-air shot.
02 Adjust in Raw
Once you’ve captured all the objects, you’re ready to combine them in Photoshop.
Begin by opening Adobe Bridge, then navigate to the flying object files. Double click the image of the falling person to open it in Camera Raw.
Set Temperature 5400, Tint +7, Shadows +43, Clarity +30, and Saturation -23. Click Done to save your settings.
03 Paste settings
Back in Bridge, right-click the same image and choose Develop Settings>Copy Settings.
Next, hold down Cmd/Ctrl and click to select all the other files that you’re going to use for the composite.
Right click over them and choose Develop Settings>Paste Settings to give all the images the same adjustments you made to the first image.
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