Sometimes the best way forward, is to admit that what you are doing has gone of the rails, and the best way to fix it is to start again.
This was certainly the case when I started out to build the composite of the Art Class together. In Part One of this blog post I went through how the image was shot and that because a number of models had been unable to make it, I had to shoot it as a composite and assemble it in Photoshop.
I selected the best images in lightroom and starting with the elements closest to the viewer, combined them as layers in photoshop masking out what I wanted to show through. After an hour I has a reasonable first cut. In order to save space I had only copied in the part of the element that I wanted rather than leaving a full layer.
I had an issue with shadows on the wall but other than that the image looked ok. The problem was that I did not want the viewer to immediately see that they were only two artists. Despite the fact that they had changed hair styles it was too obvious.
With Sian (redhead) adding a couple of extra tattoos and changing her hair colour made sufficient difference. But nothing I did really worked with Kylie so at that point I contacted Renee (who has been sick on the day) to see if she was available to shoot.
Once I had that image and tried to incorporate it the composite started to fall apart.
I could not get the light to look consistent across the image and elements were not lining up. I also realised that I had cropped off the heels and needed to enlarge the canvas at the bottom and rebuild the missing part of the heel. Then I discovered that some of the elements on the layers that I had discarded was actually needed. After 45 minutes of struggling and getting nowhere fast I decided that the best approach was to scrap it and start again.
This time I started with the empty room which I enlarged slightly at the bottom so that I had space to deal with the missing heel. I placed the girls at the back first, balanced the exposure and then moved forward. Admittedly incorporated Renee into the image was the hardest element as she was not shot in the same environment and some more work is still needed there, as the feet are not there yet. Unfortunately feet are the hardest part of a composite to get right, and the usual techinques (not showing them, or making the area around them very dark) are not available to me.
Given that I have plenty of time before I have to exhibit the image I am sure that I will get it looking right by then. If you want to learn more about composites then the best resource I have found are the videos produced by Aaron Nace at www.phlearn.com