Compositing Sports Action Photo's

Being the proud parent of a sports mad 8 yr old, I get the opportunity to attend a lot of tournaments. Whether it's a school event or local club, it's always fun to sit on the sidelines along with a bunch of other screaming parents, all of whom have their sporting aspirations invested in their children. Indeed, it's fascinating to see how after a less than stellar performance, the kids still come off the pitch cheerful and chatty, while the parents are putting on a brave face.

Being a photographer does however enable me to ensure the infield action is 'Captured In The Moment' as keepsakes for the parent. Playing sport is one of those occasions when the subjects completely let go any inhibitions as they focus on the job at hand, and are oblivious to the camera that might be tracking them around the pitch.

I've been lucky to have a daughter that's played Cricket, Netball, Hockey, Lacrosse and Athletics for her school or local club in the last 12 months and hence had the opportunity to spend a lot of practising sports photography. Whilst my Canon 6D is not ideal for sports, I've been able to perfect my techniques, and captured some great moments.

One of the things i love doing with the image, is to create montage style sporting portraits typically showing an individual player, typically in mid sporting action, with various images composited into the background of significance to the sport or location.

Below are 2 examples i've created .. These style of sport's portraits always seem popular, and I get many requests from other parents to create them for their own.

Here's the Photoshop Layer Stack-Up for the 2nd image, with all the layers shown. Note that I've removed the colour/exposure adjustment layers to simplify. As can be seen, it's fairly straightforward, the skill is in the careful layer masking.It's also critical to ensure that lighting works. i.e. the area's of highlights and shadow on the subject match up with lighting sources in the background and are consistent between the different elements within the final image.

The background is a free High Saturation Backdrop Stadium downloaded from the web.There are 2 (left and right facing) images taken from cricket matches plus the logo for the cricket club.

The 2LO texture is from a Fine Art set offered for free by, This adds depth and interest to the backdrop and sky in particular.

Finally, the central main image of the subject is added on top.

The blend layers in this image are all 'Standard', However for the Lacrosse image above, I used a mix of layer blend mode's to create more subtle effects.

Finally, one can add a frame and text onto the final image to complete it.

These are great fun to make, although they can be quite challenging if the original shots were not taken with this plan in mind.

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