Shooting Challenge: Single Space Composites

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Look at this lead photo by Peter Funch. You figure, it MUST be staged. A fake. A Sony commercial or something. But it's not. Every bit of the photo actually happened...just not necessarily at the same time.

Rather, Funch combined a single, unifying element from many pictures he photographed in one spot. And the results are something most of us haven't seen prior to his work—some amalgamation of truth and choreography, the individual and the collective.

In the lead shot, the unifying element is obviously balloons. But his other pieces from his collection Babel Tales are just as striking. Sometimes they're subtle, overshadowed by a prominent center subject:


Sometimes they're funny:


Sometimes they're just white:


Sometimes they're a bit spooky:


So why am I going on and on about Funch's work?

The Challenge

Take many photos from a single spot and combine subjects into a single, unified statement. I want you to do your best to either clone Babel Stories, or to reimagine the technique with your own touch. (Maybe there's another element that comes and goes in a spot other than humans.)


The Method

Time. A tripod. And a lot of patience in post production.

A camera needs to be locked down, grabbing shots in a public place every...maybe 30 seconds to 5 minutes? And this is key: Make sure you grab a clean backdrop with none or few of your subjects in it. (This should make post processing easier.)


Once you have a LOT of photos, you're going to need to study what you have, discerning trends or just letting your artist eye tell you what's important. Then...well the post production is tricky. Photoshop pros can share their techniques in the comments, but I'd recommend starting with your clean backdrop, then either magic wanding or clone stamping your subjects into the scene.

Then, blending, lightness darkness adjustment. I mean, there's a reason Funch is considered an artist, right?


All of this said, the premise isn't difficult. And if you scale your vision properly, it's something you can handle. Oh, and if you are a photographer but horrible with post processing tools, just team up with a friend to handle part of the project. There's no law against it.

The Rules - READ THESE

1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos need to be taken the week of the contest.
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 800px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. (The 800px image is the one judged, so feel free to crop/alter the larger image for wallpaper-sized dimensions.)
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)


Send your best photo by Monday, September 20th at 8AM Eastern to with "Composites" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameComposites.jpg (800px wide) and FirstnameLastnameCompositesWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!

[Example photos by Peter Funch.]

If you're in need of even more stuff to photograph, my site Life, Panoramic would love to publish your portrait of your hometown. It's OK if you live amongst cornfields or something.


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