I had a few questions last night after posting my portrait for the Beautiful Beasties Project 52 family theme. Click here to view the original post. I must confess that my furkids - gorgeous as they are - would NEVER have posed like this together. So to get all five of us in the one photo, I had to montage five images.
First step was to set up a tripod at the foot of our bed (well, that's awkward). To make things easy when you do this, it's crucial that the tripod does not move. If the frame shifts between photos, you're just adding extra work for yourself in post.
I set the focus and Johnny and I quickly took turns jumping into bed (thank you Johnny for clicking the shutter for my pic!) Then we asked Lyra to get under the covers for her shot - unsurprisingly, she didn't stay under for long, what with our 41*C weather yesterday! We finished with each kitten individually - you can't see it, but Johnny is beside the bed, patting them under the covers.
All five layers were opened together in Photoshop, and I used masks to reveal the portions of each photo that I wanted to show. You can use tools like the Pen tool to create exact masks, but I just used a brush with varying percentages of hardness to create my masks. I finished up with my usual curves/colour adjustments, some spot healing, a shadows/highlight adjustment layer, light vignette and a sharpening/blur. Play the video above to see each layer and how they work together.
Hope that helps, or at leasts satisfies some curiosity! Check out this blog post for more insights into group photos with your pets.