Published February 1st 2016

by Markus Pettersson 

One of the images in my recent Creative Fruit Photography series was a compositing of a pear and a light bulb. Here’s a detailed explanation and photoshop video tutorial on how it was made from start to finish. This is my first in-depth video tutorial I’ve ever made. I realized that my workflow isn’t really logic and easy to follow sometimes, haha… So I had to redo the retouch of this image to create the video tutorial. Therefore it’s not the exact same image that was shown in my Creative Fruit Photography series.

Light setup

The light setup for this shot consisted of four flashes. This is a bit overkill if you just want to try out this technique and making a shot like this of your own but this is the setup I used for all images in the series. You can basically just shoot the images in natural light, that’s not the important part in making this a good compositing. The important thing is that both images are shot in the exact same light from the exact same angle. Therefore a tripod is needed so you can assure that the camera is fixed in the exact same place and just switch the products. Another thing you can bare in mind is to try to find a pear (or whatever fruit you are using) that’s about the same size as the light bulb.

To be ”safe” and get a great DOF (depth of field) I aimed for a small aperture. That will ensure that the edges of the fruit and the light bulb are sharp and that everything is in focus. This will also make the extraction of the products easier later on. To get a great DOF you need as much light as possible, so put the flashes on maximum power. But again, all these flashes are not the important stuff here, so one flash on a softbox will work just fine. Just make sure you crank it up so you can shoot at a small aperture (high f-number).

I used a light meter to measure the light in my setup to f27. That may seem unnecessarily high, but since I was shooting with a Hasselblad H5D-40 which has a larger sensor than small format dSLR’s and therefore a more shallow DOF I wanted to be sure to get enough DOF. The light meter is not a cruical part but it gives you a good starting point. The last adjustments I make in a light setup I usually do by taking some test shots, viewing them on my iPad and adjust/move the flashes if needed. I would recommend at least f16 to get the best result if you’re shooting with a Canon or Nikon dSLR.

For these images my camera settings were:

  • f27
  • 1/250
  • ISO100
  • WB Flash
  • HC 50-110 3.5/4.5 @ 110mm (equivalent to 86mm focal length on a 35mm camera)

The BTS shots below are not of the pear and light bulb as you can see, but this was the exact same setup I used for all images in this series.


Raw footage

This is actually a pretty easy compositing with only two images, but you still get a pretty interesting and creative result. The idea can of course be applied to other fruits or objects of similar size as well. Sometimes I use stock photos for compositings combined with my own. But sometimes you might want to use, sell or distribute the image in other places than your own portolio so the best thing to avoid any copyright problems is to shoot all the material yourself if possible.
Light bulb raw image

Raw image of the light bulb.

Pear raw image

Raw image of the pear.

At first I took some shots of the pear laying on the reflective surface. But this created a shadow underneath the pear that I didn’t like, so I took some more shots where I held the pear in my hand instead. This worked better and got me a more suitable image to use for my compositing.

A good thing when shooting images for a compositing that you already have in mind before the shoot is that you know exactly what image material you need. This way you can make small adjustments like this and keep shooting until you have the desired raw material. So when shooting material for compositings, be sure to think it through before you start shooting.


First image of the pear. I didn’t like the shadow in this one.

Compositing and retouching

The basic idea for this image is to switch the glass part of the light bulb and its reflection to the pear. The way a light bulb is designed, you basically just have to add a shadow where the plastic and the pear meets and a small drop shadow to the pear after putting it in place to make it look realistic. Of course there are lots of other steps involved as well but that was my idea before the shoot.

I will let the 30 minute retouching video speak for itself. I have tried to include each and every step from the RAW conversion to the final image. Some less important parts like cloning and extracting are speeded up but I hope it’s easy to follow overall.

The video is divided into these parts:

  • 00:17 – RAW conversion
  • 01:55 – Cloning and healing pear
  • 03:05 – Extracting pear
  • 04.20 – Color adjustment and D&B
  • 07.00 – Fitting and masking pear
  • 14.04 – Cloning and healing light bulb
  • 16.40 – Adding shadow
  • 18.06 – Creating new reflection
  • 21.00 – Extracting pear light bulb and new reflection
  • 24.32 – Liquify adjustments and adding new background
  • 27.15 – Adding drop shadow

NOTE: This might not be the optimal way to do this compositing, I’m just sharing the way I did it. Hopefully it will be of help to someone! 🙂 Don’t hesitate to ask me if anything’s unclear.

Download RAW and PSD files

Want to try it yourself? Download the RAW-files and the finished PSD as seen in the video tutorial and have a go! 🙂 The zip-file is about 263 MB.

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