Blending in With the Stars

Guest post by Justin McKee

For the last post in the photo manipulation series I’ll opt to keep it short and sweet.

Have you ever wanted to be in a movie? Psh. What kind of question is that? Of course you have.

OK, probably not — but I’d love to be sometime. Or better yet, I’d love to work on one.
My job isn’t just photography — I do videography too, and a lot of the same principles apply when it comes to making things look good in both.

Color correction in video is very similar to color correction for an image in Photoshop, which is why creating the image above is possible. I looked over footage of a bunch of movies before settling on this scene in “Star Trek, Into Darkness.”

This scene is perfect for what I was trying to do. The reactions, the direction Scotty is looking in — all of those factors really helped shape this.

I stuck to using a green screen to make it easier to lay myself into the composite above. In Photoshop, if you select just the green hues in the background it makes cutting out my image much easier.

Why green?

Well, because green is very different from the color of skin. There’s a huge contrast between the two, which makes selecting just the green and not my face simple.

Here comes the hard part: I had to not only shoot myself in the right position, but I also had to make sure the lighting was even enough across the image so that I could make it match the movie’s.

I took dozens of shots before getting to this one. It involved moving lights around and trying different poses.

Once I shot the image I wanted, I took it to the computer to see how well it fit into the scene. I had to be looking in the right direction, and the placement of the paper and pen needed to be exact so Scotty was actually looking at it.

Next, I had to do A LOT of color correcting to match the movie. It took roughly 2 hours and asking my peers for help (because my eyes started to get used to seeing the same thing over and over again) before I arrived at the final image.

If you compare the image to the right and the final composite above, you can see that there are many lighting differences between the two. The shadows needed to be enhanced and I needed to change many of the highlights on my face before it looked right.

To be honest, the image still doesn’t look quite right to my eyes, but I think it’s about as far as I can go given time constraints. It also doesn’t help that my mind knows that I don’t belong in the scene — so there’s that.

Photo manipulation is a lot of fun! I hope you enjoyed this four-part series. Obviously there are many more ways to do photo manipulation.  Thanks for reading!


Justin McKee is a photographer with big ideas living in Michigan. In addition to portraits, wedding photography and video, he also enjoys wildlife photography. He always seeks to learn more about his craft.

About Karin

Journalist, singer, reader, movie fanatic, photography buff, GVSU alum, wanna-be-Brit, Crohn's fighter, Coca-Cola addict, animal lover, not a kid person, hater of winter, Michigander
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Justin McKee and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *