Here’s the process I use to turn a series of images into an interesting, fragmentary collage. Here’s what the finished product will look like.
A lot of the details below refer to Photoshop CS4 and Lightroom, but a similar effect can be achieved with any image editor that supports layers. CS4’s Photomerge helps with some of the heavy lifting but manually positioning a series of shots will eventually give you the same effect.
1. Make your shots
Pick a subject and shoot the hell out of if. In the example above I made 30 frames. Not all of them end up in the final image, but more is better than less.
In this case I stood a couple of meters back from the phone booth, zoomed in about halfway with my Canon G9, and started shooting.
2. Make the shots smaller
Back at the computer I import the images into Lightroom. Here I do some basic tweaks to the look of the shots and export them at a smaller size.
1500 pixels on the longest side I find is plenty large enough. The smaller size will make the processing faster and the individual images will be blended to make a larger one, so you’ll end up with a resolution comparable to what a single frame from your camera would be.
3. Into CS4
Fire up CS4 and open all the images prepped for the collage.
Go File->Automate->Photomerge. Select the collage option, turn off the option to blend and hit the ‘Add Open Files’ button.
Should look like this.
Hit OK and settle back. Depending on the number of source images, their resolution and how powerful your computer is, this can take some time. Photoshop can appear to crash as it aligns images, but eventually it will churn out a collage.
4. Fine tune
This is what CS4 came up with.
The last touches in Photoshop are flattening all the layers, putting it on a white background, and adding a drop-shadow. I think the drop-shadow adds an extra sense that you’re looking at a collage, and how strong it is varies image to image.
5. Back to Lightroom
I then bring the shot back into Lightroom. Lightroom is my hub to keep all my images organized, so I need it in there, and I will also do some final post-processing with it too.
For this one I decide to make the shot black and white.
And the final touch in Lightroom is to crank the Clarity slider. This emphasizes edge detail, which in this case includes the edges of the shots that make up the collage. Again, this strengthens the sense that you’re seeing a collection of shots to make up one larger image.
And the final product looks like this.