Section 9.1. Where to Find the Pieces for Your Collage or Montage

9.1. Where to Find the Pieces for Your Collage or Montage

The problem with composites is that you don't always have immediate access to the photos that you need at the time the image is put together. And the trouble is other people's photos (as all pros know) can't be used for commercial purposes without express permission and probably some payment on your part. The first thing that comes to mind is stock photos. In the past, traditional stock agencies concentrated on the big money markets. That's fine if you're doing an ad that has a budget for stock photos. But what if you're just creating an illustration for an internal brochure or for an illustration on a small client's web site?

9.1.1. Collecting Your Own Stock Photos

In the course of your daily business, keep your eye out for objects and props that you could possibly use in your own stock photos. For one thing, you should take a photo of the sky every time it looks interesting. Collect all types of clouds, sunrise, and sunset shots. Shoot the sky every different seasons of the year. The most common use for montage is placing an interesting sky into a scene that was taken when you didn't have time to wait for just the right time, season, and weather. You might also consider puppies, flying planes, flying birds, cyclists, skateboarders, and people viewing something.

Here are some guidelines for collecting your own stock:

  • Try to shoot subjects against a contrasting and uncluttered background.

  • Shoot in conditions that produce few, if any, shadows or reflections. It's much easier to add highlights and shadows to simulate the lighting that predominates in a background photo than eliminate them. This topic is covered in the "Lighting and Casting Shadows" section later in this chapter.

  • Shoot the subject from several angles and distances. You will want to match angle and distance when you place the images in the target montage.

  • Put the objects into their own category folders or "collections" and give them uniform category keywords so you can find them quickly when you need them.

9.1.2. Using Adobe Stock Photos

Adobe now includes its own stock photo library in Photoshop CS2 (and all other CS2 applications). Make sure your computer is online, open Bridge, and choose EditSearch Adobe Stock Photos. Adobe represents most of the major commercial stock photo agencies and you can use a keyword to search through all of their libraries. Thumbnails appear in the window just as if they were on your own hard drive. Right-click on an image and you get an in-context menu to download a low-resolution comp of any image at no charge. The comp images arent at a high enough resolution for commercial print purposes, but they're large enough to fill a full screen. So you could make a low-resolution image of your background photo and then incorporate the comp into it as a test before you commit to buying the photo.

Figure 9-2 shows how easy it is to search for stock photos in the Bridge interface. Now, the only problem is that if you're just looking for a bird to fly through your sky or a mouse to peer out of your kitchen cupboard you may find these prices to be more than you'd care to pay. On the other hand, if the alternative is to take the time to go make the photo yourself, you'll find most of these prices quite affordable. You can always check the price without having to go through a major process by highlighting the thumbnail of the image you're interested in and clicking the Get Price button. A dialog will appear that displays the full range of price information. If you want, you can even then download the photo right there on the spot.

Figure 9-2. Browsing Adobe stock photos in Camera Raw.

There are also many very affordableand sometimes, even freestock agencies popping up on the scene. The following are some that I find very useful. These agencies are also good outlets for your own photosespecially those that would otherwise be surplus.

iStockphoto (

This large and heavily advertised stock agency charges between $1 and $20 for images, depending on their physical size. For most collage purposes, you'll be paying less than $5. O'Reilly authors often use iStockphoto when they simply don't have time to take the photo needed to illustrate a given point. (I may even resort to that myself before this book is done.)

Shutterstock (

This site has about half a million photos in all categories. You buy a subscription for a limited time and are then able to download as many images as you need. There is a limit, however, of 25 images on any given day.

Inmagine PhotoSubscribe (

This is the subscription service for Inmagine, on of the largest stock agencies. There are numerous subscription plans, for example you can buy by collections, by the month, or by the year. There's also a collection of pre-knocked out images for lower prices so if you find the image you want, at least you won't have to spend the time doing the knockout work yourself.

Digital Photography(c) Expert Techniques
Digital Photography Expert Techniques
ISBN: 0596526903
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 124
Authors: Ken Milburn

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