What's a Digital Composite Picture?

Have you ever wondered what people mean when they talk about "compositing" something in photography? It simply means combining two or more images to make a new one. This can be a simple or complex process, a method that is automated or manual, and the result can look realistic or fantastic. You need a program capable of using layers and masks for the most effective results. This usually means Photoshop or Photoshop Elements (version 10 and newer).

Landscape Composite
National Bison Range, Montana
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In the black and white landscape image above, I combined the shot of the clouds with the image of the mountain range. Both were taken from the same location; the clouds were directly above me instead of at the horizon. The result is "realistic" except for the conversion to black and white.
The original images used for the composite above.
National Bison Range, Montana

Frequently what people mean when they talk about composites are multiple different images combined manually to create a wholly new picture. In the image below I combined a picture of a heart carved in a tree in New Mexico taken one year with a shot of faces from a door knocker in Montana taken the next year to create the Valentine's Day image.

Valentine's Day Composite

The original images used to create the composite above.

Julieanne Kost, Adobe's principal evangelist for Photoshop and Lightroom, has shared a number of excellent videos describing how she has made some of her composites. Here are some of my favorites:

The Creative Composite --- Drifting

The Creative Composite --- Twilight

The Creative Composite --- Iostacy

New Digital Composite --- Hindsight

Cyclical --- The Creative Process

You can view a gallery of her creations at her website under Photography. The portfolios of "What I Dream" have many examples of compositing.