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In Photoshop CS5: Landscape Photography, Ben Long outlines a full, shooting-to-output workflow geared specifically toward the needs of landscape photographers, with a special emphasis on composition, exposure enhancement, and retouching. This course also covers converting to black and white, using high-dynamic range (HDR) imaging techniques to capture an image that’s closer to what your eye sees, and preparing images for large-format printing. Learn to bring back the impact of the original scene with some simple post-processing in Photoshop. Exercise files are included with the course.
Picking up from where we left off in the last lesson, we have our stitched panorama. It's looking pretty good, but obviously there are some things that need to be done. We got this weird, uneven border here. Now, if you notice this part of the image goes down lower than this part of the image. That's because I wasn't holding perfectly level, but this curvature that we've got at the top, that's going to be there even if you're lockdown on a panoramic tripod head and being very careful. As I mentioned earlier, the individual images are wrapped to virtual curved planes or cylinders.
So, every panorama is going to require some cropping. So what we got to decide is how much image data are we willing to lose? I could very easily go in and crop like this, and that's not bad, except now there's some more road there, and I got a little bit more mountain over there, and there's some sky up here. It's really hard to give that up, and it's even harder if you had not done as good a job with the stitching and the shooting. and say you're needing more of a wild crop, for example, if we were trying to crop that perspective mapped panorama that we had stitched also.
If this were CS4, I would say, yes, maybe take a crop like that, or maybe you could crop it like this, and you can use the Clone tool, and you can try and fill in some of this bush over here and some of this sand, and maybe touch up some of that. It'll be a little bit of work though, but since this is mighty CS5, and we have the all-powerful Content Aware Fill, I'm going to say let's be less aggressive with our crop and try and keep more of our image data, because we're going to have a very easy way to fill in the missing spots.
Now, as far as the sky is concerned, a lot of this is just empty blue. I don't know how much I need of it. So, I'm not going to be quite as aggressive there. Skies are tricky things to replace, as we've talked about before, and as it is a landscape shooter, it's going to be one of your - one of the things you struggle with a lot, how do you touchup skies, because they are such subtle gradients. In this image, it's not just a gradient from upper atmosphere to horizon; it's from left to right, also. So those are very, very tricky to figure out. So, I'm going to take this crop for now.
If we can't patch up the sky, we may need to crop it again. So, we're getting there. We've now got an image that's a little more rectangular, but we have these bits over here to deal with. So this is the fun part, because we get to do all this great repair for very little work. We need to select the area that we want to fill, and I'm going to do that with the Magic Wand tool. I'm just going to click over here in the white. Sometimes with Content-Aware Fill, you need to select an area that overlaps a little bit. I'm going to just try it in this way and see what happens.
I'm going to go up here to the Edit menu, choose Fill, make sure it's set on Content-Aware, hit OK. Now it's going to sit there and think for awhile, as it tries to generate content that is correct for that area that I've selected. There we go! I'm going to deselect, and it's done a pretty astonishing job, actually. It's nailed the sky. I don't see any banding in the sky. It's filled in some extra clouds here, some mountains here, rocks, sand. This looks very, very good.
The only thing which you might notice is that this is a perfectly repeating pattern right there. Let me zoom in on that. You can see that it's just duplicated that rock exactly. Odds of anyone noticing that are probably pretty astronomical, unless they're some kind of digital photo forensics expert. As I get in a little bit closer, I can see, okay, there's a seam right there, and there's a seam right there, and there's a little bit of blurring there, but I can very easily fix that with the Rubber Stamp tool.
I'm going to grab the Rubber Stamp tool, take a smaller brush, I'm going to hold down to sample this area, and I'm going to just brush in some stuff here. I don't have to make perfect edits here. What I'm really after is just, obviously, hiding this seam and just breaking up any really visible repetition. So these rocks may end up with some extra weird folds in them and things like that, but again, the odds of anyone ever looking, and also if I'm printing this out small, these particular problems are not going to be visible.
It's a little soft in there, but that's okay. I could spend some time retouching more of this and clean that up, but that's looking pretty good. Let's go over here. Magic Wand this area. Now let's try growing this selection to see to if that gives us a better seam than what we got in that last one. I'm going to go down to Select, and I'm going to choose Refine Edge. I would like to view this Marching Ants on top of my image. I'm going to go up here to Shift Edge, and I'm going to add quite a bit of Shift.
That's shifting it inward, and I hit OK, and now Shift+F5 to bring up Fill. Content-Aware is selected, and hit OK. It's going to do some thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking. It's done. It didn't make a huge difference, but still, this is a fantastic Fill. It's certainly at least as good, if not better, than what I could have done with the Rubber Stamp tool. I might need to fix that little bit of visible seam right there, and I believe we just got one last little bit up here. Magic Wand to that, Shift+F5, hit OK, think. There is our sky.
Now, we have a nice, rectangular panorama. So, that fixes our cropping and our content problems. Let's just take a quick look at the histogram to confirm that we are still having, yeah, we got some contrast issues. Let's fix those. I'm going to throw on a Levels adjustment layer, and goose the blacks little bit. I don't have a lot of latitude to play with my whites, because I'm going to clip those clouds again after doing all that work to recover them. I put that about there, zoom in a little bit, and that's looking much better.
That's before and that's after. Finally, let's take out that pesky car. I never noticed them before, but there's someone by the side of the road, also. They're probably shooting a panoramic image of me. They might be editing me out right now somewhere. I'm going to use the Spot Healing Brush to see what that does. Now, that wasn't great. I put some stuff in the middle of the road. So, instead I'm going to use the Rubber Stamp tool and just paint the car out, and I'm going to sample over here, because I need to copy that bit of the road to ensure that the road boundary looks okay.
Touch this up a little bit. Again, this is one of those things that, odds are, no one is ever going to look at. As long as I've got the Rubber Stamp tool in hand, I'll take that person out, and no one will ever know that we weren't out in the middle of nowhere by ourselves shooting panoramas, and shooting them very well, I might say. This came out very nice. Content Aware Fill is a real lifesaver when it comes to doing panoramas. It's going to allow you to keep more of your image data, not have to crop as far and still end up with an image that's got nice, seamless detail all the way through.
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