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Major composite on my plate.....


Lori G
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Hi D!
Long time since we've spoken!  I know I've sent your class info to at least 200 people since I took L&M and Raw.  You changed my editing life, mister!  Anyhoo.....to my query!

I shot a family beach session ~ Mom, Dad, 3 kiddos (ages 1, 3, 8 [autistic]).  The ONE thing Mom wanted was a "nice" family shot of everyone looking and smiling.  At the same time.  In one photo.
Well, as you can imagine, that didn't happen quite the way anyone hoped it would.  However, I do have 10 shots of the whole family walking toward me that were taken in quick succession.  So, the lighting is the same, the background is the same, etc.  But, as you can probably guess..... NOBODY is looking at the camera at the same time and nobody has a smile at the same time either.  I know that with the knowledge I've learned from you, that I can make magic happen for this Mama who just wants ONE nice family photo in her gallery.  Here's the thing ~  I've never done a composite of this magnitude before.  The most I've ever done is take 2 files and make 1 finished shot.  I always use your File>Place method for my compositing.  It's what I know and it works great for me.  Is that going to be the best method for doing approximately 4 headswaps to make the family of 5 look "nice"?  Or is there another method you'd recommend in this instance, since I'm going to be working with a crap ton of files to get this right?  And, would I do each headswap individually?  Like, add one head, save.  Add the next head, save.  Etc.  Or, would I just keep adding heads until I'm done?  That's going to be a loooottttttaaaa layers.  Because I also have to remove some bystanders who were also frolicking in the water, but that's easy peasy.

I can add all 10 shots here in this post if you want.....but wow. 
I got as far as opening them all in ACR last night to take a look, realized what I was up against, looked at the clock and said "Tomorrow is another day."
I haven't even done raw edits on them yet.  I wanted to get your advice on this challenge first.

Thanks, D.  I really appreciate this.  I've even missed your snark.  Just a little bit.  LOL!

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51 minutes ago, Lori G said:

Long time since we've spoken!  I know I've sent your class info to at least 200 people since I took L&M and Raw.  You changed my editing life, mister!

No I didn't :(  The Levels Class is the only one that genuinely changes lives, and you haven't taken it yet :(

52 minutes ago, Lori G said:

I always use your File>Place method for my compositing.  It's what I know and it works great for me.  Is that going to be the best method

Yes, still the same.  Just on a larger scale, as you sayd.

52 minutes ago, Lori G said:

And, would I do each headswap individually?  Like, add one head, save.  Add the next head, save.  Etc.  Or, would I just keep adding heads until I'm done?  That's going to be a loooottttttaaaa layers.

Yes, one at a time.

53 minutes ago, Lori G said:

each headswap

Here's the thing - you keep using the word "headswap", but it's vitally important not to lock yourself into that thinking.  You need to approach each person on their merits.  Always look for the best and easiest option.  That won't always be headswaps.  Sometimes it'll be face swaps, sometimes whole body swaps, sometimes, just torsos ... etc.

So yes, I would like to see the photos.

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Here ya go!  All 11 files of this series with raw edits only.
 Not my best work, for sure.  But, this was at the end of their time, and the kids were DONE.
Also, out of all 11 of these, I *still* don't have one of the littlest child looking at me.  Darn it.  :/

Am I out of my mind for trying this? 

a.jpg

b.jpg

c.jpg

d.jpg

e.jpg

f.jpg

g.jpg

h.jpg

i.jpg

j.jpg

k.jpg

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Since the only photos of the middle-sized kid looking at the camera have him squinting, maybe you could use H as your base?  H is the only one where the oldest kid is any good, and middle kid is at least happy; and mum is ok too.  That just leaves little kid and Dad, and you could use them both from J.

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Yeah....looking at them again after stepping away for a while, I'm thinking of just combining H with either I or J like you're saying.  Drop the Dad and Baby  on to  H from either of those two.
Not as complicated as it first seemed.  So, save both files as PSD and File>Place, just like always.  Right?  Also, any words of wisdom for removing all the folks on the left of the shot?  Just careful cloning and masking?  Or cut and paste from the water?

Thanks for taking a look at these.  I do appreciate what you do.  In case nobody's told ya lately.  :)

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1 hour ago, Lori G said:

Not as complicated as it first seemed.  So, save both files as PSD and File>Place, just like always.  Right?

Not exactly.  Open the first one into PS, then File>Place and choose the other raw file.  No need for an intermediate PSD save.  Only one PSD needed.

1 hour ago, Lori G said:

Also, any words of wisdom for removing all the folks on the left of the shot?  Just careful cloning and masking?  Or cut and paste from the water?

Alas, I can't think of any "tricks", sorry.

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