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Alien Lake: Multiple layered Photoshop composite

Compositing is seldom so complex or time consuming as Alien Lake. Some projects have promise and it’s difficult not to see them to fruition. The rock formations surrounding the lake are made up of three different shots from different locations, the left and center on a road trip between Green River, Utah and Capitol Reef, and the right from Castle Garden in Wyoming. Blending these shots truly created something out of the ordinary since these stark formation are so geologically different.

There are 24 layers in this creation, not a particularly high number, but enough to not go into great detail in explaining all the layers. What is more important here is the technique I used to get the effect. Please note that the steps are more from experimentation than learned skills. What may work great in one composite may not be the best approach in the next.

Perhaps the most stunning part of this composite is the reflection. The effect was obtained by overlaying the reflection on a black canvas and reducing the opacity to 68% in this case. Note that the reflection is defined by the shoreline. On the left and center I found some dry grass I imported from an image by using the rubber stamp since I just wanted a line at the waters edge. I then used the burn tool to darken the bottom edge to near black. The shore on the right side was simply the rock formation, which I also burned to make the line more distinct.

The reflection of the ringed planet is actually layered underneath the reflection of the sky and rock formations. Because the opacity was fairly high on the reflection, I found it necessary to up the contrast on the planet to make it show through.

The only other distinct layer was the three cloud puffs that are streaked by the wind. These I made by just painting some white blobs and then using the smudge tool with a splatter brush to pull the streaks. I added my typical frame, signature and copyright.

 

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