Friday, July 16, 2010

Walking Around Town with Content Aware Fill

Okay, I didn’t actually walk around town with Adobe Photoshop CS5’s Content Aware Fill in my hand, but it was in my mind. The church in today’s image is on Main Street in our little town. If you were to tell the casual visitor to go and find it, they probably couldn’t. You see, Main Street is not the main street in town. That would be Greenwood Avenue. The route through town was changed at some time in history. The original road (now a state highway) came into town as it does today. For some reason, the route just plain stopped, took a right turn for one block, went left for one block, took another left for one block and, after a right turn one block down, went along its merry way. That jog of one block had the road go down Main Street. Our Main Street may be in the running as the shortest Main Street in America, one block long. At some point I guess people got fed up with the one block “detour” and cut a new section of road through in a straight line. Main Street became a quiet street with a church, the Second Meeting House and several hat factories. The hat factories are gone, replaced with modest, late 19th century, Victorian  homes and lately, a few units of medium income housing. People have “wanted” to shoot the church in today’s image for years. One thing stopped many a photographer from getting an iconic shot of a classic New England church. Power and phone lines right in front of the building. I’m not talking one line. There are a dozen or so lines visible from any reasonable shooting location. Even with Content Aware Fill it was a tedious grind to get all the offending objects out. To learn how the image was finished, hit the “read more”
Because of the closeness of the shooting position and the use of a wide angle zoom factor the church was leaning over at a considerable angle. Two or three times during the processing of the image the perspective had to be tweaked. The Perspective (CTRL A, CTRL T, right click, perspective) had to be countered with the Skew function (while in perspective, right click, Skew) so it wouldn’t look like the church was built as a trapezoid. The vertical corners were used to measure the uprightness and its pretty darn close. It still looks slightly tipped, but the verticals are there.

Two things I don’t like (if you’re a regular reader you probably already know) are HDR skies and Sharpened skies. Both look so phony it gets me crazed. After the Content Aware Fill did its thing on the wires and the building was straightened, a mask was made to capture the sky. At this point a copy of the image was saved and renamed. The foreground had a little HDR Toning put on it to bring out the detail in the brickwork. The colors were saturated individually and some sharpening was applied and then discarded. Sharpening made the leaves in the trees look electric. Not good. The non HDR, non sharpened sky was brought back in and matched up using the mask that had been made earlier. A very slight vignette was applied and today’s image is the result.