Due to their shape, the apples were easy to cut out from the background using the Pen Tool. These were then positioned above the pot in the composite image. The headband of blueberries was cut out from the background using the Color Select tool as shown above. This produced a reasonable selection which was then refined by reducing the selection and adding a little feathering which removed the slight white halo around the berries.
With all of the individual images prepared they were positioned on top of the pre-prepared background image, placed into labelled groups to allow for easy identification, and their positions tweaked until they sat nicely together. A few of the elements required a little use of the Transform tool for them to sit correctly.
Once I was happy with the composition the finishing details were added. These included the addition of shadows under the blueberries on to the apples and also under the blueberries at the front. These were simply painted onto a blank layer using a soft brush with 100% opacity and 5-10% flow using a color sampled from the apple skin which was then darkened from the Color Picker dialogue.
The finishing touches were a little sharpening and a overall curves layer to adjust the contrast. I then posted the image in the Photigy Facebook group where I received some very helpful comments. I made a few additional changes as suggested by fellow Photigians (many thanks to all who commented and especially Max Bridge, Ori Livney and Bryant Figueroa for their constructive feedback and guidance).
These changes really made the image pop and made the compositing look much more natural. These changes mainly consisted of controlling the highlights on the blueberries. With hindsight, when shooting the blueberries, I should have turned the back-right light down significantly to give a much more subtle highlight/gradient. Also, the berries in front of the pot were shot in isolation with no pot behind them and hence they had a bright highlight on their back edge.
When placed into the composite image the pot behind the berries should have blocked this light source and this highlight looks out of place. When I have some more blueberries I will reshoot these correctly and add them in. However, in the meantime I cheated and darkened these rear highlights by using a soft brush in Photoshop.
I hope that this has helped you to understand the process involved in producing a complex composite image and give you confidence that it can be achieved with relatively little specialist equipment. The important fact when approaching compositing like this is to keep the camera position relative to the subject the same throughout and (in most cases) keep the lighting the same. This makes for a much more believable final image.
I hope that it inspires you to look around for product ranges that you see everyday and go and create more than just a single image, make you portfolio stand out and create a s series of images – it may just set you above the competition!