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Recomposing photos

From: Photoshop Elements 9 Essential Training

Video: Recomposing photos

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.

Recomposing photos

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.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop Elements 9 Essential Training
Photoshop Elements 9 Essential Training

120 video lessons · 15388 viewers

Jan Kabili
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 11m 0s
    1. Welcome
      1m 18s
    2. What is Photoshop Elements?
      3m 47s
    3. Touring the workspaces
      5m 55s
  2. 54m 16s
    1. Working with catalogs
      5m 22s
    2. Importing and using the exercise files
      5m 13s
    3. Importing files from your computer
      7m 31s
    4. Importing photos from your camera
      8m 57s
    5. Importing photos from iPhoto (Mac only)
      4m 44s
    6. Importing files from external drives/CDs/DVDs
      4m 44s
    7. Scanning photos
      6m 50s
    8. Dividing scanned photos
      5m 51s
    9. Importing from watch folders (Windows only)
      5m 4s
  3. 39m 10s
    1. Touring the Organizer
      6m 41s
    2. Viewing thumbnails
      6m 15s
    3. Rotating photos
      52s
    4. Renaming photos
      2m 55s
    5. Fixing photo dates
      2m 28s
    6. Hiding and deleting photos
      4m 6s
    7. Stacking photos
      4m 22s
    8. Moving files
      2m 43s
    9. Reconnecting missing files
      4m 53s
    10. Using Help
      3m 55s
  4. 54m 22s
    1. Rating photos
      3m 58s
    2. Applying and organizing keyword tags
      7m 4s
    3. Searching by keyword tags
      3m 35s
    4. Tagging with People Recognition
      11m 3s
    5. Using Smart Tags
      5m 57s
    6. Creating albums
      4m 41s
    7. Creating Smart Albums
      6m 28s
    8. Searching by text
      5m 28s
    9. Using the Find menu
      4m 19s
    10. Using the Timeline
      1m 49s
  5. 30m 14s
    1. Viewing slideshows in Full Screen view
      4m 21s
    2. Working with photos in Full Screen view
      9m 20s
    3. Comparing photos
      5m 56s
    4. Viewing by date
      3m 18s
    5. Mapping photos (Windows only)
      7m 19s
  6. 38m 36s
    1. Applying Photo Fix
      9m 0s
    2. The Quick Fix interface
      7m 9s
    3. The Quick Fix controls
      5m 22s
    4. Adjusting lighting in Quick Fix
      3m 46s
    5. Adjusting color in Quick Fix
      5m 39s
    6. Using the Touch Up tools in Quick Fix
      7m 40s
  7. 43m 43s
    1. Guided Edit basics
      8m 13s
    2. Making an Out of Bounds image
      10m 17s
    3. Perfecting a portrait
      7m 43s
    4. Adding realistic reflections
      5m 26s
    5. Applying a LOMO camera effect
      2m 0s
    6. Making pop art
      1m 31s
    7. Using Style Match
      8m 33s
  8. 1h 20m
    1. Full Edit workspace overview
      6m 51s
    2. Working with tabbed documents
      4m 51s
    3. Using tools
      7m 40s
    4. Arranging panels
      5m 18s
    5. Setting preferences
      3m 41s
    6. Using Undo History
      6m 39s
    7. Zooming and navigating
      7m 4s
    8. Creating a blank file
      5m 19s
    9. Photo resizing and resolution
      8m 9s
    10. Cropping and straightening photos
      7m 15s
    11. Recomposing photos
      8m 15s
    12. Enlarging the canvas
      3m 27s
    13. Saving and formats
      5m 46s
  9. 35m 4s
    1. Understanding layers
      7m 17s
    2. Working in the Layers panel
      5m 21s
    3. Using layer masks
      7m 43s
    4. Using layer masks to combine images
      6m 27s
    5. Building composites
      8m 16s
  10. 20m 58s
    1. Selection basics
      3m 22s
    2. Manual selection tools
      3m 19s
    3. Automatic selection tools
      7m 24s
    4. Refining selection edges
      3m 30s
    5. Saving selections
      3m 23s
  11. 1h 21m
    1. Color managing
      7m 14s
    2. Applying Shadow/Highlight adjustments
      2m 42s
    3. Using adjustment layers
      8m 24s
    4. Masking adjustment layers
      7m 38s
    5. Adding a Levels adjustment layer
      6m 8s
    6. Adding a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      5m 56s
    7. Adjusting with Color Curves
      4m 14s
    8. Removing a color cast
      3m 37s
    9. Reducing digital noise
      4m 7s
    10. Sharpening photos
      7m 32s
    11. Processing multiple files
      7m 59s
    12. Working with raw photos
      15m 57s
  12. 18m 34s
    1. Using the Smart Brush tools
      6m 16s
    2. Dodging and burning
      2m 29s
    3. Retouching blemishes
      4m 29s
    4. Content-aware healing
      2m 31s
    5. Removing content with the Clone Stamp tool
      2m 49s
  13. 25m 53s
    1. Applying filters
      5m 36s
    2. Adding effects
      2m 34s
    3. Using layer styles
      7m 23s
    4. Using shapes
      4m 46s
    5. Using the Cookie Cutter tool
      2m 19s
    6. Converting color to black and white
      3m 15s
  14. 11m 25s
    1. Creating text
      7m 1s
    2. Editing text
      4m 24s
  15. 1h 25m
    1. Creating a photo collage
      8m 38s
    2. Fine-tuning a photo collage
      8m 3s
    3. Creating greeting cards
      8m 34s
    4. Creating photo calendars
      9m 28s
    5. Creating CD/DVD jackets and labels
      7m 43s
    6. Creating a photo book
      7m 44s
    7. Fine-tuning a photo book
      7m 11s
    8. Creating a slideshow (Windows only)
      8m 0s
    9. Fine-tuning a slideshow (Windows only)
      3m 23s
    10. Creating a flip book (Windows only)
      2m 47s
    11. End to end: Making a scrapbook page
      8m 15s
    12. End to end: Completing a scrapbook page
      5m 24s
  16. 49m 27s
    1. Printing photos
      8m 38s
    2. Contact sheets and picture packages (Windows only)
      6m 40s
    3. Sharing photos by email
      6m 38s
    4. Sharing photos by Photo Mail (Windows only)
      5m 8s
    5. Sharing to Flickr and Facebook
      4m 43s
    6. Saving images for the web
      6m 48s
    7. Signing up for Photoshop.com
      2m 55s
    8. Sharing online albums at Photoshop.com
      5m 4s
    9. Backing up
      2m 53s
  17. 38s
    1. Goodbye
      38s

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