Erik Almas, one of the best commercial composite photographers, has recently teamed up with the team at PRO EDU to create a fully comprehensive tutorial on his complete shooting and retouching process. In this video Almas takes us through an hour-long tutorial, retouching and completing the backplate for one of his tutorial images. I'm always impressed when photographers and retouchers, especially those at the top of our industry, open the doors and reveal their entire process and Almas has done no less here.
In this comprehensive retouching tutorial, Almas takes seven images from a recent shoot and seamlessly stitches them together. Attention to detail and doing things the right way, which so often happens to be the long way, is a common thread with those who are the best at their crafts. Almas' choice to stitch manually using his own techniques are a testament of someone taking the slow road in order to achieve the top results.
A backplate is the staging ground for any good composite. Stitching together several images as well as toning and refining that staging ground is paramount to to completing a high-end composite. After completing the initial stitch, Almas also shows his methods for adding contrast and for removing distracting elements.
What I found particularly impressive was his ability to match contrast and color from between images and then mask those elements in without any trace that they weren't really there. By using fundamental techniques that include adjusting contrast with curves and adjusting color using curves, Almas is able to create seamless image blends.