Removing a large distraction
Video: Removing a large distractionWhenever a blemish in a photo is really obvious, I find it tremendously distracting and, so, I want to try to remove that blemish. Or, at least, minimize a blemish, if at all possible. With this photo, there is a particular blemish that's a bit problematic and that's a twig that's sticking into the frame toward the top right corner of the photo. Now for some portions of the twig it won't be all that difficult to apply a correction to clean up the image. But because it spans across multiple prayer sticks in this photo, it is a little bit of a challenge for certain portions of the image. Let's take a look at a variety of techniques we can use in order to remove this twig from the image.
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In this workshop Tim Grey looks back at one of his most treasured images and how it came to be, explaining the story behind this particular photograph, what his creative vision for it was, and how he achieved this vision. See how Tim applied adjustments like converting to black-and-white, adding a color tint, and enhancing contrast, and how he cleaned up the image to make it look the way he wanted it to. And more importantly, gain insights into the artistic decisions that were made at every step along the way.
- The back story
- RAW processing
- Saving the initial image
- Converting to black-and-white
- Adding a color tint
- Enhancing contrast with Curves
- Cleaning up the image
- Finishing the image
Removing a large distraction
Whenever a blemish in a photo is really obvious, I find it tremendously distracting and, so, I want to try to remove that blemish. Or, at least, minimize a blemish, if at all possible. With this photo, there is a particular blemish that's a bit problematic and that's a twig that's sticking into the frame toward the top right corner of the photo. Now for some portions of the twig it won't be all that difficult to apply a correction to clean up the image. But because it spans across multiple prayer sticks in this photo, it is a little bit of a challenge for certain portions of the image. Let's take a look at a variety of techniques we can use in order to remove this twig from the image.
I'll start off with one of the more significant areas that needs to be cleaned up and that's this prayer stick in the center of the twig. I'm going to create a selection that is a little bit larger than the area I need to clean up. So I'll choose the Lasso tool and then I'll simply click and drag over the image in order to trace over the area that I want to correct. And actually including in that selection the area of the image that I want to use as the source. And what I'll do is essentially take a sprite of the wood here. And reposition it. I'll just duplicate those pixels and reposition them, so that they cover up the twig.
To do that, I'll scroll down to the background layer, on the Layers panel, and make it active. And then, with that selection active for the background image layer, I'll go to the Layer menu and then choose New > Layer via Copy. That will create a duplicate layer that contains only those pixels that I had selected. I'll go ahead and choose the Move tool, and then I'll click and drag within the image, and only that layer that I'd just created will actually be moving. So I'm just moving those duplicate pixels. I'm going to reduce the opacity of this layer, I'll just press the number 5 on the keyboard to reduce the opacity to 50%.
And this way I can see where the layers line up and I can reposition this layer so that a clean portion of the layer is in alignment with twig. In other words the portion of the per stick that I need to replace is entirely covered up by this layer. I'll then press the number 0 on the keyboard to return the opacity for that layer to 100%. Next, I'll click on the Add Layer Mask button, the circle inside of a square icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. And that will add a layer mask for this new layer that I've created. I'm also going to rename the layer, and I'll just call this twigfix1, since this is the first of possibly several layers that I'll use to correct for this twig. I'll then choose the Brush tool, and I'll press the letter D on the keyboard to make sure the colors are set to their defaults of black and white. But then I'll also click on the layer mask in order to make sure that it is active.
I want to paint on the layer mask, not on the image layer itself. I can then press the letter X as needed to switch foreground and background colors. In this case, I want black to be my foreground color. I'll also make sure that my brush is set to a 0% Hardness, so a soft-edged brush, as well as an Opacity of 100%, and a Normal Blend Mode. And then I'll come out into the image. I can adjust the brush size as needed with the left and right square bracket keys. The Left Square Bracket key will reduce the brush size and the Right Square Bracket key will increase the brush size. And then I can click and paint into the image in order to block portions of this layer, of the new layer that I've just created.
And you'll notice that because I'm using a soft edge brush I'll get a little bit of blending into the photo. But we're getting a reasonably good effect here. I'll go ahead and increase the hardness for the brush. I'll take that up around about a 50% value should work well. And then I'll press the letter x to swap those foregorund and background colors so that now white is my foreground color. And I'll reduce the brush size and then paint over that twig. And so what I'm doing is now revealing those pixels, those duplicate pixels that I created only where the twig is visible. So I have a little bit of blending there in the portions where I needed it the most.
But now I'm also reducing the amount of blending so that we see the twig disappear completely. I can then switch back and forth as needed between black and white in order to block or reveal portions of the image. Based on wherever I need to replace the twig vs not have that board visible. So, for example, I need to follow along the line of the original board so that the blend is perfectly seamless. I can also go back to my Cleanup layer, and then choose the Spot Healing brush tool. And work with that Spot Healing brush tool in areas where the twig is not quite as problematic. So, where it already blends in reasonably well with the surrounding area. And that will make my work a little bit easier.
Here for example, I think I'll be able to just paint across the board in order to remove portions of the twig. But in other areas, for example, at the top of this board, I think I'll need to use the same technique I just showed you. Duplicating pixels from down below on that board, in order to cover up, that twig. But by using a combination of these techniques, I'll be able to remove that twig, so that it is completely out of the photo.
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