Articles, Blog

How to make a surreal photo // Photoshop tutorial // Ian Komac

February 12, 2020

Hi everyone welcome to another video. I know
it’s been a while but today I’m going to be talking to you guys about something that I
do quite often and that’s changing proportions of props to make a scene look really surreal
and really interesting. So there are a couple of thing you have to pay attention to while
shooting your image that will make it much easier to edit in photoshop. So first of all
I’m going to be going through three of my tips on how to take the photos and show you
what I do in photoshop using this image that I created in 2013. But I feel like this is
a great photo to illustrate what I’m going to be explaining. So let’s get going. The
first thing you want to pay attention to while taking the photos is taking photos of your
props at the same location as the background. This will make your life so much easier, otherwise
you’ll be spending hours and hours trying to match the colours, the lighting to your
background image and it will never look as polished as when you shoot at the location.
So take that prop with you, shoot it right there and it’ll be so much easier when you’re
editing in photoshop. The second thing you want to pay attention to is the angle. Shoot
your background image, make a composition you thing is very interesting and new and
then go into your prop. Photograph it at the exact same angle. You want to go back and
forth to imagine “this is where I want the prop to be, how am I going to take that photo”.
You want to match it up so you don’t have to do any warping and transforming in photoshop.
The third thing you want to pay attention to while taking the photo is your aperture.
When you take the photo of your background, let’s say at around f/2.8 which will give
you a shallow depth of field, a nice blurry background and still enough detail in the
foreground. You want to change it while taking photos of your prop. Because it’s much closer
to the lens the depth of field will be much shorter so compensate by making it a f/5.6
aperture which will give you a similar effect and you’ll have enough space to work with.Let’s
see it on this photo that I have right here. Right here on this background photo you can
see that the sharp area is somewhere around here. When you take the photo of the prop
you want to make sure that somewhere, you have the same distance when you imagine it.
If it would be placed there, what would be in focus. You imagine that and you focus on
the part you cant to have in focus.So I probably short this at around f/5.6 which gave this
depth of field that matches really good. If you’re going to be shooting the prop at f/2.8
as well you’re going to get much blurrier edges which will not blend really well. Or
if you shoot with a really closed aperture of, let’s say f/22 it’ll be way too sharp
and it wont blend in eitherway. Now that you’ve got those things done, let’s hope into photoshop.
We’re in photoshop and I have the original document open. And I’m just going to strip
it down so I only have the background visible. So we can build up the document together.
Then I loaded in the telephone, and I’m going to disable the layer mask so I can show you
what it looked like before. I scaled it down so it would fit onto the path and then I used
a layer mask to select it out of the background. This is what it looks like when I did that.
Then I just added a little layer to make the reflection on the front of the telephone less
bright. And then I started doing some colour work. I used hue and saturation to desaturate
the entire image and then I played around with curves and levels, contrast and brightness.
You want to be zooming in and out to see if it blends. If it doesn’t blend well it’ll
be very obvious when zooming out so you want to match contrast, sharpness and brightness.
That’s how you’re going to get the most natural look. Then I added a curves layer which looks
like this, having the blacks a bit up. This’ll give you kind of a matte looking vintage effect.
To make it very cohesive I added a high pass filter to sharpen the entire image. Then I
used a vignette to draw your eye in. And that’s really nice to finish off photos where the
focal point is in the center. And that’s it basically. If you want to see anything else
from me, comment down below. I’m going to try and be more active on this channel. And
don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss out on any of my new videos. Bye!


  • Reply eds van January 30, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    lieve groetjes uit limburg

  • Reply Hamza Aboulainain October 8, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    loved how you facilite things

  • Reply Monica Melgar November 20, 2017 at 12:33 am

    I love all the details you provide about the camera settings which makes it easier for viewers to be successful when they give this a shot. Thank you!!!

  • Leave a Reply