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My First Attempt at a Composite Image

Believe it or not, my Photoshop skills are pretty terrible.  I have played around with it before, but I never took the time to actually figure out how to do anything useful.  Yesterday, I had an idea to try to do a composite image of the sun setting over Back Cove, and I knew that using Photoshop to put the images together would be the hardest part.

So, after about 1.5 hours of shooting and about 2 hours of fumbling around in Photoshop, here is the result:

What do you think?

You may recognize this location - it's up on a hill on the East End of Portland, which overlooks pretty much the whole city and Back Cove.  It's also where I shot a particularly beautiful sunset about two years ago.  I love this spot.  I knew it would make a great location for this composite.

So, I dragged my girlfriend up there and we camped out on a stone bench up on top of the hill.  I took over 150 shots before it got too cold to sit up there any longer.

I narrowed it down to 5 shots, and created the composite you see here, by layering the shots in Photoshop, and drawing gradient transparency masks on each one.  If you look closely, you can see the 5 different "sections".  You can probably tell that they go in chronological order from right to left.  The leftmost section is actually a few images combined, in order to accentuate the light trails created by the cars on I-295.  The brightest set of lights in the leftmost section are from Hadlock Field, where the Sea Dogs were having one of their last regular season games.

Overall, I'm quite pleased with how this came out.  It looks very similar to how I pictured it in my head, and creating the composite image in Photoshop was a little bit easier than I thought it would be.  I don't know if I did it the right way, but it worked well enough for me!

I'll probably be doing more of these in the future, even though they are a lot of work for one image.  It was a fun experience and definitely something I've never tried before.