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In Photoshop Elements 9 Essential Training, Jan Kabili highlights the key features of this comprehensive image organization and photo enhancement application. She shows how to correct and enhance photographs, and how to organize a growing collection of digital photos. The course also explains how to use photos in creative projects like photo books, calendars, and greeting cards, and how to share work online and in print. Exercise files accompany the course.
The Recompose tool is really useful for photographers; because it lets you change the shape of a photo in an intelligent way that doesn't distort the important subject, the horses in this photo. This means that you can recompose a horizontal photo like this one into a vertical photo, and you'll be able to get your digital photos to fit standard size photo frames. This is a horizontal photo from John Lorenz Photography. I'd like to use this in a project, but my project calls for a vertical photo. The Crop tool won't give me the results that I want here, because that will crop away the sides of the photo, and I'd like to keep that content in the photo even after I make it vertical.
The Transform command won't work, because it will distort the horses. Instead, I'm going to try the Recompose tool, because that will reshape the photo by removing content from inside the photo without distorting the important subject, the horses. To access Recompose in the Full Edit workspace, I can either go up to the Image menu at the top of the screen and choose Recompose, or I can go over to the toolbox, click on the Crop tool and choose the Recompose tool from the flyout menu.
At this point, you may get a window that gives you some information about the Recompose tool, you can close that window. Before I change the shape of this photo, I'm going to go up to the Options Bar, and I'm going to select this green Brush tool and use it and tell Elements exactly which parts of this photo I wanted to protect or not distort as it changes the shape of the photo. I'll move into the image and I can see my brush tip, and as with any Brush tool, I can change the size of the brush tip by using the Left Bracket key to make it smaller, or the Right Bracket key to make it bigger.
I'm going to press the Left Bracket key a couple of times, and then I'm going to click and drag over the horses in the image. I don't have to be too careful as I do this. I just have to make some lines indicating that I want to protect this horse and over here that I want to protect this horse. Now sometimes, you can save time with this by right-clicking or Ctrl+clicking with a one-button mouse and choosing Use Quick Highlight, and that will work like the Quick Selection tool. The brush will move ahead of you, trying to select the area and fill it with green.
But for the most part, I just leave this at Use Normal Highlight. By the way, if you've already added some highlights and they're not working for you and you want to clear them all out, you have some choices to do that from this menu as well. So, I'll continue to make some marks on this horse with the Green Protect Brush, and if I happen to go too far and move out here with my mark, I can erase that part of the mark by going back up to the Options Bar and getting the green Eraser tool and clicking and dragging to eliminate that part of the green protect mark.
And then I'll go back up and I'll get the Green Protect Brush again, and I'll finish the job. I'm also going to protect this fence post over here on the right. Now, the next step is optional, but if I want to, I can tell Elements exactly what to eliminate when it recomposes this image. So, let's say that I really don't want to have this stand of trees in the background, I can go up to the Options Bar and get the Red Brush and select the Red Brush icon, and then move into the image and just draw a quick line over that stand of trees.
Now it's time to reshape the image. I can do that manually by moving my mouse over any one of these anchor points, at the edges of the photo or at the corners, and dragging towards the center of the photo. So, I'll click here and drag, and then I'll click on this anchor point on the right and drag towards the center. Here's the result. The horses haven't been squished, the fence post is still here in the photo, and that stand of trees that was in the background has been eliminated and I now have a vertical image that will fit my project.
I'll click the green check mark to accept that, and now all that's left to do is to crop away the transparent areas that are left on either side. I could get the Crop tool here in the toolbox to do that, or I can go over to the layers panel, I can hold down the Control key on a PC or the Command key on a Mac and click right on the thumbnail on the layer that contains the image. That loads a selection based on transparency around just the photo. And then I'll go up to the Image menu and I'll choose Crop and that will crop to that selection.
I'll deselect by pressing Ctrl+D on the PC or Command+D on the Mac. So that's one use for the Recompose tool. Let me show you another by changing over to this image of a pond. I have a horizontal frame that is 6 inches by 4 inches, but this photo has a different aspect ratio than 4 x 6. This is often the case with digital photos, because digital photos have more of a square shape than the standard more rectangular shape of 35 millimeter film, and lots of frames and photo albums are still being designed to fit that rectangular aspect ratio.
I'm going to go down to the Document Information field at the bottom of the Document Window and press-and-hold, and here I can see that the photo is currently 9 plus inches by 7 plus inches. I'm going to start by resizing that largest edge down to 6 inches which is my goal for the Width. So as I showed you in an earlier movie, I'll go up to the Image menu, I'll choose Resize and Image Size, and here in the Image Size dialog box, Resample Image is checked, and because I'm making the image smaller, I'll change this menu to Bicubic Sharper, which is the best formula for reduction.
And then I'll go to the Width field, I'll highlight the current Width and I'll type 6 instead, and that automatically changes the Height proportionally to 4.5. So this is what I mean that the aspect ratio of this photo is not 6 x 4, even when it's reduced in size. I'll OK, and now when I go down to the Document Information field and click there, I see that I have a 6 inch wide photo, but it's too tall; it's 4.5 inches tall.
So, I'm going to use the Recompose tool to change just the Height without distorting the image. As it's often the case in landscape photos, the more interesting parts of this photo are in the foreground and in the background. So I'm going to tell Elements that it should keep those parts, but it can eliminate this area here in the middle. To do that, I'll get the Green Protect Brush, I'll come into the image, and as I showed you before, I'll press the Right Bracket key to make the brush bigger, and I'm just going to scribble over the background area that I want to keep, as well as the foreground area.
And again, I don't have to be too careful with that mark. Then I'll get the Red Brush tool and I'm going to mark the area that I don't mind losing as Elements reshapes the image. Then I'll come down to the bottom of the image, I'll move my mouse over the center anchor point there, and I'll click and drag up. As I do this, I'm keeping my eye on the Options Bar, on the Height field, which is currently set to 4.5 inches. I'm going to drag until that says 4 inches, and then, I'll release my mouse.
I like that result, so I click the check mark, and then I'll crop away this transparent area either by getting the Crop tool over here or by using the Crop command as I showed you in the last example. I'll use the Crop tool this time, selecting it in the toolbar, and then coming in and dragging over the part of the image that I want to keep, and then clicking the green check mark. So using the Recompose tool, I've been able to reshape the aspect ratio of this image to 6 x 4, so that it will fit in my frame.
And as you can see, Elements has respected the foreground and background and eliminated only that area in the middle that I really didn't care about. So, if you've got an image that doesn't fit in a particular frame or that you'd like to have in a vertical orientation rather than horizontal, give the Recompose tool a try. Now don't expect it to do a perfect job on every photo, but in many cases, it will help you to reshape a photo without distorting the main subject.
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