Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday Q&A: Removing Objects with Photoshop CS6

A couple of photographers I know asked recently about "clearing the decks" as one of them put it.  He had an assignment to shoot a public place, but the editor said he didn't want to bother with any people being in the scene.  Since this was not a photojournalism gig, where there are harsh penalties for "altering" the content of an image, I figured he had a couple options.  He could go through the people in charge of the public space and get an off hours shoot, or barge in and start telling folks to get out of the area.  The first case would take weeks to go through all the paperwork and the second would be just downright rude.  There was a timeline to get the image in and this guy isn't the rude type, so a "perfect storm" of circumstance was coming together to have Adobe Photoshop CS6 (or earlier versions) come to the rescue.  To find out what "magic" happened to today's image to have clear sailing on the highway, hit the "Read More".

Today's image is made up of two separate shots, hand held.  A tripod would have been nice, but CS6 can take care of any misalignment pretty easy.  A couple keys?  Don't change the zoom and don't bring the camera down from your eye.  That's all.  Keep breathing, it does help not to faint while trying to get the shot.  The natural in and out of taking a breath will move the camera slightly.  It's okay. 
(Today's image did have an added wrinkle thrown in to the mix.  When I took the series of shots used for this example I was bracketing the exposure by 1/3 stops to get a choice of exposure densities.  To make the finished image work I needed a couple shots with specific attributes.  The foremost is having matched exposures.  It was easy enough to overcome in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (LR4).  Two shots were selected because of the distances between the cars on the road.  One was one stop removed from the exposure of the other.  In the Basic Panel, LR4 (or ACR [Adobe Camera Raw]) just happens to have a slider named ...wait for it... Exposure, and its units are exactions of F-stops.  The brighter shot didn't have any blown out highlights, so all the detail was there when the Exposure was dropped a full stop.)
With that little aside out of the way we can continue.  The images were brought over to CS6 from LR4 as Layers (Photo/Edit In/Open as Layers in Photoshop).  Because of the breathing already discussed above, the two shot were not "in register"   The shots did have common reference points.  The road, the signage and the change of material on the bridges.  CS6 has a neat little trick it can do to fix us right up.  Edit/Auto-Align Layers brings up a dialog box.  As is the case with many of the choices in the newest versions of Photoshop, the Auto option works just fine for the method of alignment.
There's not a whole lot left to do.  Put a Layer Mask on the top Layer and use the Brush Tool (B) to remove the cars.  In today's image that did 95% of the work.  There were a couple spots where the bumper of a car might show through.  Any areas like that would be hit with the Clone Stamp Tool (S).  Less than five minutes work. .
After that it was sending back to LR4 for finishing.  A simple Save (File/Save) sends the composite image back to the same folder that the original images came from.  Close out the composite in CS6 and you're all set to do whatever adjustment you feel are necessary (Clarity, Vibrance, Cropping, etc.)