Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Adding Real Estate With Adobe Photoshop CS5

What happens when you've taken a reasonable shot and when you put it up on the computer screen and start to pick it apart?  It's not often you can say "yup, that's it.  It doesn't need anything else."  Today's image began life with a few flaws.  The edge of the water, with people on the shore, distracted the eye, bringing the center of interest to the people rather than the boat.  The boat was too close to the right edge of the image, giving the boat nowhere to go.  There was a round canister tucked under the side of the boat to keep it upright.  The boat was pretty much centered in the frame.  Any one of these problems could be the kiss of death to an image.  Two of the problems were easy to take care of.  Cropping removed the ocean's edge and the tourists walking there.  The canister was also easy.  Make a selection of the can, pick the Patch Tool (J), and move the offending canister down the line of sand a little.  That'll cover the can and blend the sand under the side of the boat.  "Moving" the boat a little further down the beach wound up not being too difficult either.  To find out what the simple solution was, hit the "read more".
Had I had another image of the beach, taken a little further down the beach, expanding the canvas (Image/Canvas Size) to the right and pushed and pulled (using Free Transform [Ctrl T]) another image to match up with what was already there. Oops, I didn't have that shot. I had what I had.

One way I could have gotten rid of the people on the shore was to use Content Aware Fill. It's one of the stars of Adobe Photoshop CS5. There must be a hundred tutorials about the wonders of Content Aware Fill. Take out telephone poles, extra people, that branch growing out of someone's ear, all manner of things that ruin an otherwise good image. Well, in today's image I'm not interested in taking something out. I want to put something in. Namely, more sand.

Content Aware Fill has a little used cousin called Content Aware Scale. It first came in with CS4, but it wasn't given the splash of its sexier relative. One of the reasons is probably because it's a little trickier to use than CAF. If you select an entire image (Ctrl A) and go to Free Transform (Ctrl T) you can grab the right handle and pull the image to a longer adaptation of itself. The thing is the boat will get distorted elongation along with everything else. So, Free Transform (Ctrl T) is not the answer. For a general scene, where you might want to preserve the forms of people, simply using the Lasso Tool (L) to Select the folks and saving the selection (right click in the selection and choose Save Selection) would be the first step. Then Deselect (Ctrl D) the people and Select the entire image (Ctrl A). Go to Content Aware Scale (Edit/Content Aware Scale). On the Context Aware Options Bar there will be an option saying "Protect". Click the dropdown arrow on the dialog box and select the thing you want to remain as it is. If you named the selection when you saved the selection, click on the name of the thing you want to protect. If you didn't give the selection a name it'll be called Alpha 1 (or 2 or 3 or whatever Alpha Channel you're up to) and select that. Now you can grab the handle and pull the image out to fill the extended canvas. (If enlarging the image you'll have to had extended the canvas (Image/Canvas Size. If contracting the image just grab the handle and push toward the center.)

With today's image, using the Quick Selection Tool (W) to make an accurate selection of the boat will give a better result. Once the image has been altered to fit your objective you can commit the change by either clicking on the Green Checkmark or tapping the Enter Key.