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How to Add Scenery Behind Pictures

Adding scenery behind a picture requires using an image-editing program.
Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images

Aside from changing the overall look of your photo, an image-editing program allows you to change certain elements, colors and textures in your photo. It can even make a portrait photo shot in a room look like a shot on a beach or a historical landmark in a far country. Adding such scenery behind a photo requires changing the photo’s background and often altering the original lighting of the part of the photo combined with the new scenery.

Things You'll Need:

  • Original Photo To Be Added To The Scenery
  • Photo Of A Scenery
  • Image-Editing Program

Open the two image files in your preferred image-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, a widely used program for editing photos.

Save another copy of the photo with the scenery by clicking “File,” then “Save As.” This is to ensure that you don’t lose the original copy of your photo after creating a newly edited image from it. This copy also allows you to start all over again in case you intend to redo the image-editing process from scratch.

Resize both the photo of your scenery and the photo where the scenery will be added. Make sure they have the same resolution as well. For professional use and making prints, you need a resolution of at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). For Web use, you need a resolution of at least 72 dpi. Resizing the image requires clicking “Image Size” under the “Image” menu. Button names and their locations may slightly vary depending on the program used.

Make initial adjustments on the image attributes of both photos to make them look more like they were both shot at the same place at the same time. For amateur users, use the “Auto Levels,” “Auto Contrast” and “Auto Color” first. These may not readily make your photos look very similar, but they help you get started. However, you should really be adjusting both photos manually and check if the fully edited photo with the two separate photos already combined doesn’t look fake. Making these adjustments is best done when you already have the two photos together in the same image file.

Go to the photo that you want to add onto the scenery and select the “Magnetic Lasso” tool. This allows you to manually select the person or any other object you want to add onto the scenery. The selection requires careful use so you don’t lose any part of the required element or you don’t have unnecessary parts retained on it. Use the “Feather” option found on the “Feather” box on top of the toolbar, then select 5px (pixels) as the initial value to serve as your guide. This makes the selection have a softer edge. However, the right feather value you must use would change depending on the elements found in your photo.

Use the “Magnetic Lasso” on the edges of the primary element to be retained on the photo you want to include in your scenery photo. Slowly move the mouse around its contours and let the tool automatically snap through these contours. You can always press “Delete” to remove any unwanted snap point. Once you have the entire element selected, click “Copy,” then “Paste” it onto the other photo containing the scenery. If you have more than one person or object on this original photo that you also want transferred onto the scenery photo, separately do the same process for each element by using the “Magnetic Lasso,” then copy-paste each one onto the scenery photo. Each copied-pasted element will have its own layer on the scenery photo.

Use the “Move” tool to put any added photo element on the right location within the scenery photo. Simply drag the photo element over the spot you want, whether in the middle side, lower bottom or any other part of the scenery.

Adjust the size of the photo element you added so it fits the overall look of your edited photo -- making sure it doesn’t look weird or fake. Use the “Transform” functions under the “Edit” menu, specifically the “Scale” and “Rotate” options, to resize and rotate your photo accordingly. You may also use other options like “Skew,” “Distort,” “Perspective” or “Warp.”

Adjust the image attributes of the visual elements you added onto the scenery photo, specifically the “Color Balance,” “Brightness,” “Contrast” and “Saturation.” These functions are typically located under the “Adjustments” drop-down list of the “Image menu.” Each one shows a bar that you can drag to make the necessary adjustments. Each one also typically provides a space where you can put a specific value instead of dragging the bar to make the changes.

Polish the overall look of the new photo. If needed, put highlights and shadows to the elements you added onto the scenery. A simple way to add highlights is to use the “Dodge” tool found in the program’s “Toolbox.” Simply use it over the part of the photo you want to look brighter. You can add a bit of a “Drop Shadow" by clicking “Layer,” “Layer Styles,” then “Drop Shadow.” Make sure you have the right layer of the photo element needing the shadow selected. Use the "Angle Wheel" to make sure that the shadow falls on the right direction. You can also lengthen or shorten the shadow using the “Distance” option.

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