Fun With Photoshop
Making A Montage In 48 Years Or Less

Dramatic subjects, like this manta ray "flying" over a reef in Fiji, are easily "cut and pasted" when the background is relatively plain. Selecting the ray was accomplished by using the Magic Wand tool (lets you select similar color values) on one area of the surrounding water, and then by selecting all the other background areas using the Magic Wand while holding down the Shift key--a technique that lets you add, again and again, to the Wand selection. Next, I went to Select > Inverse, which selected only the ray. Color and contrast were adjusted by going to Adjust > Curves. I could have made similar adjustments by going to Adjust > Color Balance and Adjust > Brightness/Contrast, but Curves, as most pros know, offers much more control. Here, I set the Unsharp Mask at 60 percent.
Photos © 1999, Rick Sammon, All Rights Reserved

Someone once asked me, when looking at the three-picture montage in this article, "How long did it take you to create your `Flying High' image?" My reply, "21 years," brought a look of puzzlement to the person's face. But it was true. Here's why: I figure it took me that long to develop an eye for pictures, fine-tune my shooting technique, become an experienced traveler and photographer, and get familiar with all the accessories I use to create my pictures--including Adobe Photoshop. Actually, a more accurate answer would have been "48 years," because that's how long it has taken me to get to this point in my life--knowing what I like, and liking what I'm doing.

Naturally, you don't necessarily need 21 or 48 years to make a three-image montage in Photoshop. You can start the creative process with three pictures and Adobe Photoshop--if you have about an hour.

While flying over Sicily, I noticed this beautiful cloud formation. I thought the hole in the clouds--the dark, open area--made the picture the perfect candidate for a Photoshop background. This is an example of how digital imaging has changed the way I shoot--and see: I take pictures I can use in Photoshop, even if they are not my idea of a great picture.

Check out the captions for each image in this article. Remember the techniques and try 'em yourself using your own pictures. Be patient. Don't do this when you are rushed. Follow Ansel Adams' advice: "A print is never done." Keep making and remaking a print until you are 100 percent satisfied. Then, go back a few days, weeks, or months later and make new images--adjusting contrast, color, and brightness...and using new filters. This remaking process is possible because you have literally endless creative possibilities in Photoshop.

So, let's have some fun in Photoshop.

After you're done, drop me an e-mail at: I'd like to get your impression of my "Flying High" montage--shown here in Shutterbug for the first time.

Photographed in 1993, five years before I got into Photoshop, I encountered this whale shark, the size of a school bus, in Galapagos. At the time, I was a purist, and never imagined I'd be a "Photoshopper." To select the shark from the background, I traced the huge animal with the Lasso tool (lets you select the subject within the lasso). I used Adjust > Curves (lets you change the film's curve) to remove some of the bluish cast in this natural light photograph. I set the Unsharp Mask (sharpens an image despite its name) at 80 percent due to the softness of the original picture.

Photography/Imaging Equipment for "Flying High"

Here's a look at the imaging gear and accessories I used in making the pictures and images for this month's Photoshop column. Two very important items are not listed, but they are essential--time and patience.

· Kodak Elite Chrome 100 and 200
· Canon EOS 1N, Canon 15mm and 24mm lenses
· Sea&Sea Underwater housing
· Packet of seasickness pills
· Polaroid SprintScan 35 Plus
· Macintosh 6500/225 Power PC
· Radius PrecisionColor Display/17
· Adobe Photoshop 5.0.2
· Epson Photo Stylus EX
· Epson Ink Jet Paper
· Iomega Jaz Drive
· And...Window shades in my office to ensure consistent room brightness--which is essential for consistency in monitor display.