expansion

How to shoot an expansion

Expanding an image comes in two stages, first is the shooting process, second is the photoshop process.
Both are fairly simple once you know them and have practised a few times.

Shooting Process:
What you will be doing is taking a main image of your subject so you can get nice and close and then taking photos of the surrounding area to widen.
- Set your exposure and don’t change it. It’s best to use a custom white balance instead of auto so theres no colour shift.
- Use a wider aperture such as f/1.4 to increase depth
- Focus on your subject and take your main shot
- Lock your focus by switching your lens to manual (you don't your focus to shift while taking your surrounding images)
- Take your surrounding images, it’s best to work in a pattern, clockwise or back and forth.
- You need to over lap each image by 40%
- Take more photos than you think you’ll need to be safe

Import your images onto your computer and load them into photoshop.
It can get a little confusing having so many images but this is why you shoot in some sort of order so you know which is which.
Find your main shot of the subject.
Here is where we will expand the canvas. We will be joining all the other images together, kind of like a puzzle and we need a larger space to work with.

To do this we go:
Image > Canvas Size...

Up will pop the Canvas Size window where you are shown the current dimensions. We are wanting to increase these dimensions to allow room to bring the other images in. Increase the Width and Height of the canvas by entering in a larger number, theres no set size, you just want to make sure you give yourself enough room to work with and that depends on how many images you've taken. 

Hit OK and you'll see something similar to this, the white area around the image is what we have expanded.
This will allow us extra space for the next step.
If you notice that you don't have enough room, go back to Image > Canvas Size and increase the numbers again. It doesn't matter if its too large, you'll be cropping the edges out later.

Next, find the first image at the start of your expansion.
Using the MOVE tool (v), drag and move this image into your main shot window.

Drop the first image of your expansion in the rough area of where it will go.

Lower the opacity of this layer to around 50%, you want to be able to see the image you are joining it to underneath. From here using the MOVE tool (v) slowly move your image around, what you are wanting to do is line it up with the underlaying image. For this image I was focussing on certain leaves and sticks which were in both images to join them. This is why it's best to overlap by 40% when shooting, you don't want to leave yourself short.

After you have lined up and your images are matching, increase the layers opacity back to 100% and add a white layer mask by clicking the 'add layer mask' button thats shaped like a box with a circle in the middle.
This is where we will be joining the images together to make them look blended.

On the white layer mask, with a soft black brush at 100% opacity you want to paint over the solid line which will erase the top layer and reveal the bottom. Now since we over lapped images when shooting and lined them up previously, erasing this solid line will join the images and blend them together.

Quick tip: Painting black on a white layer mask will reveal whats under neath. Painting white will hide whats underneath.

From here its a matter of repeating this process with all the other images until you get your final result!
Goodluck! :)