Composite Photography: The Art of Image Manipulation

Imagine that you travel to a stunning location. You’re on an exotic beach, and you want to take some once-in-a-lifetime photos.

You take several decent pictures, but you could really create the perfect photo if there was a way to combine a picture of the waves with one that reveals the sunset.

This is the beauty of composite photography.

Composite pictures are made up of two or more images that have been combined to form a single, new image.

There are several different kinds of composite images, and each type is used for different reasons.

Fake composite photos

Some people try to pass off composite photographs as authentic, original images. For example, imagine a conspiracy theorist using composite photography as proof of a UFO sighting.

This is a common use for composite images, but it goes without saying that it’s profoundly unethical. In fact, most credible publications won’t accept images that have anything added, removed, or edited beyond minor color corrections.

Composite photography as art

Another common use for composite photography is creating a visually appealing image.

For example, a photographer may combine a picture that has a blue-sky background with a shot of dark, angry clouds to put an artistic spin on two photos that would otherwise look mundane.

Surreal composite images

A third type of composite photography is used to create photos that are clearly impossible, bizarre, or extraordinary — but for artistic purposes, in contrast to those fake UFO composite photos trying to be passed off as “news.”

A picture of a rider-less bicycle in motion or of a flying cow are examples of surreal composite images.

You can have a lot of fun with this type of photo-manipulation, letting your imagination run wild.

Creating composite photographs

You can create this unique type of photo with any photo-editing software, such as Photoshop. Check out this tutorial from Digital Photography School for practice!

Once you get the hang of composite photography, use it to create stunning additions to your online photography portfolio.


Anita Alvarez

Anita enjoys writing about WordPress and other tech topics, as long as there's a cup of coffee and some jazz/funk playing in the background.

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