What Is A Glamour Composite?

Answer: a beauty portrait where elements have been added. What follows is an example of how one is made. First, we need a portrait. Here is an image of my friend Charissa: 

A studio shot of Charissa.

A studio shot of Charissa.

The above image has been retouched.  Believe me when I say this was a very short process - Charissa is one of the most beautiful women I have ever met. A green seamless background was used in conjunction with studio flash units. Our goal is to place her in front of an interesting background. The next step then is to mask out the green as best we can:

Charissa with the green background mostly removed.

Charissa with the green background mostly removed.

We need an interesting background. Perhaps this image of Skopelos Island in Greece

A mid-afternoon exposure of Skopelos.

A mid-afternoon exposure of Skopelos.

Instead of using this, let's take four more images at different exposures and create a high dynamic range (HDR) image: 

HDR version of the Skopelos image.

HDR version of the Skopelos image.

Getting interesting, but that sky is terrible! The obvious solution is to mask out this sky and look for something better. Here is the masked sky image: 

The Skopelos image ready for a new sky.

The Skopelos image ready for a new sky.

Here is a shot of a dawn sky from Skiathos Island, Greece: 

Dawn over Skiathos.

Dawn over Skiathos.

Perhaps a five-shot HDR version of this scene would be more interesting: 

The HDR version of the Skiathos sky.

The HDR version of the Skiathos sky.

The problem is that the camera was pointed up for this, but the sky we need for the Skopelos image is far out over the horizon. The simple solution is to compress the sky vertically: 

The compressed version now looks distant.

The compressed version now looks distant.

When the Skopelos image is placed over the Skiathos sky image, we get the background. 

The completed background: a composite of a Skiathos sky and a Skopelos beach.

The completed background: a composite of a Skiathos sky and a Skopelos beach.

Charissa must now be placed into the image: 

Charissa placed into the image, but with no adjustments.

Charissa placed into the image, but with no adjustments.

After adjusting the color of light on Charissa to make it look a bit more like she belongs in the scene, plus vignetting, we get a glamour composite of three images: 

The final image.

The final image.

The danger with this kind of glamour composite is that the somewhat surreal background can sometimes distract our eye from the model. Moreover, many people despise the look of HDR images. As for me, I enjoy images that are colorful and interesting - images that are nearly impossible achieve any other way.