Architecture, Art, Fine Art Photography, Fine Art Portraits, Photography

The Work Evolves

Through various things on the internet I have been learning new ways of working and, yes, most of it has been through creativeLIVE and all their different instructors.  I don’t copy what other artists do, that is definitely wrong, but I do take what they do, well bits and pieces of it.  I know when I look at my work flow that there are things that I do that I got from this artist or that artist, but when I put them altogether I get my style, well that is the plan.

So I have been doing the fine art portraits for a while now.  I still love doing them, but doing them always in the park,  well, I need to change and I want to start doing something more with them.  I want to combine my love of architecture with the portraits. So I have been thinking about doing more compositing.  Actually start compositing.

It isn’t something I have done a lot, I have experimented a little bit, but I want to get more serious about it.  I have been working on my Photoshop skills and I think I have the skills now to do some really great images.  I also think my past experience as an artist who painted and did a lot of drawing, has to help.  I understand how an image is put together and the elements that make an image believable.

So what is compositing, for those that don’t know, I found a definition from Wikipedia, here it is, “Compositing is the combining of visual elements from separate sources into single images, often to create the illusion that all those elements are parts of the same scene.”

scmont-hpm4843So I would be able to go to somewhere like Montsalvat and take images of places there, without a model, then take some photos of models, or clients, in my new portable studio and then composite the person into the image I took at Montsalvat.

It isn’t going to be as easy as it sounds, but I think I know what I need to know to be able to do it.  I know the way I shoot the model will be very important and the lighting will have to fit the scene that I am going to put them in.  I will have to make sure colours are correct and that type of thing.  I think I have the knowledge to do it, and I am very excited to try it.

scmont-hpm4960I could put someone standing in the doorway here, or even further back.  Doing this kind of photography is part of the reason why I bought the 50mm lens, so I could shoot everything with the same lens.


Part of the problem I have now is that if I take a model or client to a place like this to take photos, one, it will cost me so much more money, but secondly I can’t expect a model to wait around for people to leave so we can take photos.  Somewhere like this is quite touristy, so there are often people around.  However, I can go on my own, take the photos I need and then place people in various spots.  It will also mean I can use the same locations for multiple people.  If I take photos of these places carefully, I could get a whole library of images just for compositing.

scmont-hpm5058There are still many things to consider, but I am hoping to try my first one this week.  I am so excited.  When I do the shoot for the model, I will also photograph the portable studio for you to see. Though if you have seen any of Jennifer Thoreson’s work, you would know what I am doing.

Here are the photos I took at Montsalvat last year.  Not so sure about the processing anymore, but I hope you like the place.


  1. Love the B&W image above. Will be very interested to see your composting result. On;y then do I think I can judge. Look forward to it, MM 🍀

  2. You get the most remarkable lighting effects, tones and textures … the best of any photographer I follow.

    As for copying: Someone gave me mu first camera when I went to Martha’s Vineyard in 1966. We stayed in the inm where Alfred Eisenstadt lived every summer. His books of Vineyard photos were everywhere. I slavishly copied every single photograph, finding exactly the angle from which he shot, what clump of rocks he crouched behind to get that particular perspective. When in later years, I had the oppportunity to actually spend time with him (be still my heart!), I told him about how I learned photography from him, even though he hadn’t know it.

    He was not a humble man. He said “Good. You picked the right teacher.” He was such a character. I’m still using the same guidelines I learned from Eisie way back when and they are still great guidelines.

    • What a lovely compliment, thank you so much, and thank for the faith.

      I love your story, how wonderful and even more wonderful that you actually got to spend time with him. It is true, it is the best way to learn, imitation and copying, though not to pass off as your own, just wanted to put that in there. I used to copy Picasso’s etchings, so I could learn how he did them, it is such a good way to learn.

      I love what he said to you, I don’t think I will ever be that confident to think that.
      Thank you for sharing this.

  3. lensaddiction says

    Love the stone doorway, the lighting is sublime. Re compositing the biggest issue I have with it is difference in lighting tones and angles. Tones can be edited to a certain extent but when the lighting angle on the background is from the right but on the model its on the left or the front its really jarring, So if I had any advise for compositing, always pay attention to the lighting or it will look quite unnatural when you put the two images together. This might be helpful–photo-14288

    • Thanks for that, it is one thing that I am really aware of as well, I’ve noticed in images from other people that they don’t get the lighting right, and I can see how it bugs me, so it will be something that I will make sure I am really careful about, that and shadows. Thank you so much for the advice.

      • luminaetumbrae says

        I’m from Belgium and I speak French. I haven’t a large English vocabulary and I would say more about these pictures… But the main ideas are said in my message ! :D (sorry for the mistakes, if mistakes there are.. ) :)

  4. Tricia SweetRascalPhotos says

    Two comments: First, everything old is new again, nothing is original. So don’t worry about copying someone’s style. However we can make our style our own, in our own way and I think it’s great how you are finding your style. Second, I am so excited to see your composite work!!! I can’t do photoshop so I am in awe of what you do and love to see it all. Good luck!

    • Thank you Tricia, all pieces of great advice, I do love seeing how other artists work and then how I can make it my own. Well, parts of what they do. I can see the influence in my work of many artists. I am excited about the compositing and really keen to see what I can do with it. Thank you so much.

  5. I love the shots you have here, the colours are fantastic and create a great mood. Compositing sounds like a really interesting idea, I look forward to seeing what you do with it :)

    • Thank you Ben, I am looking forward to trying it and see what I come up with, I am sure some will be horrible, but hopefully some will be fantastic as well. :)

  6. Ted Ryan says

    Montsalvat is pretty amazing and will suit your narrative style – no place better really. It’s interesting with the compositing. As you know it’s something I’d like to get into when I get my skills up and can see what you & others mean about the lighting etc. I wonder though would that be such a problem all the time. One thing I’ve thought of doing is taking pics of those old school locations that dot the Mallee – where there is just the sign saying a school used be there – and combining them with earlier pics of the same sites showing the schools & children. I’d take the ‘present’ images in colour while the ‘past’ images would be b & w or sepia. As long as the ‘present’ shots aren’t too overblown – and as you know we don’t take pics in summer for that reason – I’d see the disjunct between the images as part of what I’d be looking for in a composite – sort of like having ghost children wandering the school grounds that no longer exist. It fits with the whole ‘abandonment’ thing too of course. I was out in the scrub up at Bronzewing last Friday monitoring malleefowl nests and there were great images all around – not much chance to record them though when we had 72 mounds to get around in as short a time as possible. Meanwhile at home the parrots stripped the fruit off my quandong tree. I had an impulse to get out my pastels and draw them upside down and inside out – ‘that’d show them’, I thought. I bet it wouldn’t!

    • Thanks Ted, I think you are right about Montsalvat. I think what you want to do will be different to what I want, as what you want to do. I think with what you want, you might find that you don’t have to be as precise as what I will need to be, it won’t matter so much, because you don’t want the images to look like they totally belong to one another, if that makes any sense at all. I know what I am trying to say. I look forward to seeing some of the work.
      My daughters have just about finished school, so I am hoping to get up there very soon, Klara and I are planning a trip in the next couple of weeks, will let you know when I am coming. Sounds like lots is happening up there in the natural environment. I can’t wait to try out my new camera up there.

      • Truly, I love looking at your photography. Seeing as I’m not traveling right now, it brings me back to places I have been, or places I can dream up and write about! It is amazing when one person’s work can be the catalyst for another’s, and I hope it speaks to the world of arts and how important they are!

      • What a wonderful thing to say, thank you so much. It is wonderful to inspires others, I have found inspiration from so many people, to actually be someone others are finding inspiring, is so amazing. Thank you so much, I will have smile on my face all day now.

  7. Great work, again! Curious as to what you shoot on. You said a 50mm lens, and with that field of view, I may be wrong, but a full-frame?

      • If I were taking them now, it would be with a full frame, and a different lens as well. I hardly use that lens now.

      • It all takes time, I know just what you mean. It has taken me quite a few years, but I just about have the dream camera kit now, well my dream kit. The only thing to get really is a new tripod. I have put a request into Santa.

      • I’ve only been into serious photography steadily for the past couple years. So I’ll do what I can when I can :)

        A carbon fibre tripod is on my list . . . !

      • I have been doing it for around 20, so slowly things happen and you get what you need. Then there is always the wish list, I have a macro lens on that. But seriously once I get the new tripod, I will have everything I need. My husband will be so happy. :)

      • Haha yeah, I bet! I just can’t wait to start getting my dream items . . . except, a Leica might be a bit too farfetched for me at this time :)

      • It is wonderful, speaking as someone who just got their dream camera, it is a fantastic. I hope you get to experience that soon too. :)

  8. I love that place!! It’s rustic yet very elegant and has soooo much charm! Fantastic!!

  9. Ingrid D. says

    Fantastic pictures! I especially like the b&w. If I only had 10% of your talent in photography, I would consider myself to be a very lucky person!

    • Thank you, my talent is all about practice, I read a lot, I look a lot and I try to imitate photos by others. Any can be good if they put in the hard work, so you can do it too, good luck.

  10. Wow! I’m still trying to get to grips with photoshop let alone being artistic enough to ‘composite’….it sounds really tricky because you would have some issues with different light sources and exposures/tones in two or more photos in different locations. The header shot of the bride running up the stairs is fabulous.

    • I know what you are talking about, 3 years ago I hadn’t heard of compositing, but I decided that I really want to learn how to use it, and I spent a lot of time figuring lots of things out. I know how to do it now, just need to start getting the images for it. It can be tricky, in many ways, but being aware of all those things is part of the process, and knowing how to change some of it in PS is also great. Thank you, I love the shot of the bride.

      • Great post of WP 101 today with more tips! thank you so much for so generously sharing – the bride’s my daughter……took a lot of photos of her that day!!

      • I wasn’t so sure about the post, seemed a lot of it got changed, but anyway, I am glad you liked it. Lots of photos is the way I work too, you can never take too many. I hope you can do to the photos what you want, good luck with them.

      • Really? interesting! maybe I should just go straight to the source! I noticed yesterday you’ve got some further e-guides for purchase on your website and I was really interested in your comment about a 50mm prime. I have got one but I only use it occasionally, I rely on zoom a bit too much and my everyday lens is a bit of a whopper at 18-200. I’ve never really thought about using the 50 as an alternative but I might try it for a while just to see what difference it makes to my style and whether it forces me to really think about other factors like lighting etc?

      • I know there are lots of people out there that say the only way to go is to use a prime or fixed lens, I am not one of them. I think you should use what you are comfortable with. I got the 50mm and I will try it, but I know I love the zoom, and I can’t see myself replacing them with the 50mm, but I can certainly see a place for it and a place where it will be very good to use. I think it will be good for my composite work, but I think I would like the 24-70 I have too much, and would use it for portraits. That is me, though time will tell. I just don’t like the idea of being limited or restricted by the 50mm. That is me.

      • I have one extreme to the other! the big one is too heavy a lot of the time as I have relatively small hands, even for a woman – 24-70 sounds like a very nice compromise next time I can afford a new lens…..might have to drop some hints about a xmas present! I love the editing of your photographs, really appeals to me visually, just haven’t found my own style yet with editing so generally they are pretty much from camera to computer with no change. Apart from my I-phone which I go crazy with editing apps on, I don’t do much with the canon as yet – give me six months and I might have got to grips with lightroom 5 :)

      • Some of the lens can be hard to manage. I have a friend with a Canon, she has a Tamron 18-270 and a Canon 18-135 and she nearly always uses the Canon lens now, she started using it a lot more and now really prefers it. So a lens like that might be perfect for you. My 24-70mm is a Nikon lens and costs about $2500 to buy,also quite heavy, so I am not sure you would want one of those, unless money isn’t a problem but I would recommend you think about how much zooming you do. What would be best for you. I am happy to offer advice.

        Thank you, I am really happy with where my editing is going. It is all time, and I think being prepared to do things that will be bad, just so you can find out what things work and what doesn’t. I don’t know if you have seen it, but at the top of my page is a page called Learning photography and under there is a link to a page full of tutorials I have done, you might find some good things there. I don’t know. Good luck with it all.

  11. Maggie Beck says

    Your architectural work creates a solid sense of the ‘presence’ of the buildings as entities in and of themselves. Through primarily light and angle you manage to give your buildings a life of their own, far outside their builders, or their past and present usage, such as some of the almost iconic photographs you have taken of the historic School for the Deaf (I think that is what it was called) This sense of the building as a ‘model’ is even present when there model present in the image, such as in your recent photo with the surprise bride running up the steps. I look forward to seeing more of this arena of work, Leanne.

    • Oh Maggie, I am almost speechless after this really wonderful comment you have left. What you have said about my architectural work is just fantastic. Thank you so much. I really hope when I marry the two together there will be a strong sense of both. I am hoping to start working on some this week, though if the rain doesn’t stop nothing will be happening.

      • Maggie Beck says

        I am looking forward to seeing the evolution of this project, Leanne. Oh, and rain? We had first snow flurries here. Not my favorite season!

      • Thank you so much Maggie. Oh snow, I love snow, though that could be because we don’t get it, I am not sure I would like to live where it snows, sounds like it is a lot of hard work. Not to mention cold.

  12. I can really see you doing this Leanne … seems a perfect idea to have all those elements together as YOU want them to be .. model.. location etc without some of those constraints you mentioned.
    I think some of those locations are crying out to be interpreted in a new way ;-)
    and you’ ll be able to produce original Art photography in your definitive style of that I have no doubt :-)

    • I think it sounds perfect for me as well, I do feel like I am making the right decision about this.
      I keep looking for places now, wondering what model I could use and what I could get her to wear. It feels like it opens so many new ideas.
      Yes, I really hope so. Thank you Poppytump. I can’t wait to start, it is raining here and could be for days, so who knows when I can start.

      • … time spent planning is never wasted so it goes ;-) but I do hope the weather bucks up for you Leanne I can sense you are keen to get started !
        I have to say it is one glorious russet and amber coloured Autumnal day on the Hills looking out of my window home here …quick
        where’s my camera …. ;-)

      • I agree Poppytump, but the weather isn’t giving up, I suspect we are getting the spin off from the typhoon that hit the Phillipines, I could be wrong but it all seems to be coming from that direction. I am a bit over it, but apparently it should clear up by the weekend. I really hope it does, I really want to start doing some stuff. :( Rain, rain, go away, come back another day, in about a week or two. :(

  13. The Sparkling Butterfly says

    Goodluck! I can’t wait to see and you will do great! Your work is amazing and your enthusiasm for it makes it even better! :)

    • Thank you so much, I am really excited to actually start on some of this work, it should be a lot of fun, and I know I will learn a lot. :)

    • I do hope it is fun, I am looking forward to it, so will see. Thank you, Montsalvat is perfect for this kind of photography.

  14. Greg Urbano says

    I personally like the look of last years photos! Have ever thought about shooting two photos, one with you in it for reference. That is if you are bringing a tripod.

    • Thank you Greg, no I had never thought of putting me in some for reference, scary. I have thought of taking my daughter and getting her to stand some where so I can focus on her and use her for reference. I nearly always have the tripod with me, or it is close by in the boot.

    • I get bored if I don’t, haha. I do like to challenge myself, push myself, see what’s possible. Thank you.

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    • What a lovely thing to say Michael, thank you so much, though you just need a DSLR really, any, and go for it. Good luck.

      • I know you’re right but I’m a sucker for mega zooms. Already hoping Canon will get a new one out with 3″ screen for spring! :)

      • The mega zooms are incredible and also very expensive. That is a big screen, that would come out on a 5D wouldn’t it. I have no idea what size my screen is on the D800, though I find it fine. I just zoom in on the screen if I want to see if something worked, though you never really know until you get it on the computer.

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  17. Oh no, I meant an advanced point and shoot with manual control and a long zoom. I’m hoping Canon updates this one by spring… . I realize that would be kid’s stuff for you, but I like the portability and when they’re zoomed, these cameras give good depth of field. Not so great when zoomed out tho. Barrel distortion gives them away. But I have to go step by step, I figure. :-)

    • Oh, I understand, I have heard that Canon camera that you are talking about is really good. Nothing is kid’s stuff when it comes to photography, it is all about you and how you want to take photos as far as I am concerned. I have seen some really amazing shots taken with the SX40. I think if I were getting a camera in this category the one you want is probably the one I would bet. Though have you looked at the Mirror less cameras, the ones you can change the lenses on, they are becoming quite bit now. That might suit what you want more as well.

      • Thanks for your suggestion and congratulations, btw, on your amazing job to photograph Christmas! Back in the day I had a Pentax K1000 film camera with a 28, 36, 50 and 50-150 zoom (my mom worked in a camera store). It was a “good” camera not the best. But good enuf to know what SLR can do. So I think if I do make a jump, it will be all the way up to DSLR. But not in the winter. I’d be too worried about wrecking it in this Canadian cold! Have fun photographing Christmas! :-)

      • Thank you Michael, it should be a great gig, I do love Christmas. I had a Pentax K1000 too, it was a great camera to learn on. I don’t know a lot about the mirror less, but there seem to be a lot people making the move to them, but I understand. I have heard how cold it can be in Canada, good luck with it. Thanks again. :)

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