How To combine multiple shots into a seamless whole
Photo: Dario Acosta. For more of Dario Acosta’s “3 A.M. Moto” project, visit his website at www.DarioaCosta.com.
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In 2009, Dario Acosta, a New York photographer of opera singers, wanted to diversify his portfolio with a series of hard-edged portraits, which he titled “3 A.M. Moto.” Its subjects: bad-news bikers in sinister, after-dark settings. “It was fun, but I couldn’t work at night and get the sharpness I wanted,” he says. “I had to shoot the models and backgrounds separately and combine them in Adobe Photoshop.”
Acosta started with shadowy, rain-soaked streets on the city’s outskirts. Then, he took models and motorcycles into the studio and shot them separately. To sync lighting and scale between biker and bike, he shot both under the same lighting at about the same focal length, subject distance, and exposure settings. Also, because his subjects wore black, he rim-lit them so their figures would separate from the film-noir-inflected backgrounds.
Acosta’s assistant did the meticulous work of digitally extracting his subjects from the studio backgrounds—a topic, possibly, for a future Software Workshop. His compositing techniques, however, are so effective that many viewers are fooled into thinking the pictures are straight location portraits.