Friday, February 1, 2013

If You Can't Lower The Tripod, Use Photoshop To Raise The Water

Today's image was shot while sitting on a rock in the stream with the tripod legs precariously placed on three smaller rocks.  If nothing else, the skew of each leg was, hmmm, let's say "interesting".  One as short as it would go.  The second just a tad longer and the third extended out to almost full extension.  The angle on that one was way out there.  So, I'm sitting on a rock in the stream.  (I just couldn't bring myself to say "in the middle of the stream".  It's pretty obvious that I'm over to the edge.  Maybe two feet in.)  The tripod is as low as it can go.  I'm folded about in half trying to see through the viewfinder (Live View was about useless in the sunlight).  But I got the shot.  Well, I got a shot.  It was reasonably easy to tell the camera was too high above the water.  I knew I had to do something.  Luckily Adobe Photoshop CS6 has an easy way to raise the water level.  To find out what I did, hit the "Read More".

The big secret is a feature that came out in CS4.  It was slid in and wasn't pushed by any training or tutorials.  In CS5 the big "tada" feature was Content Aware Fill (CAF).  You couldn't throw a rock without hitting a tutorial on that.  What was used on today's image is CAF's older brother CAS (Content Aware Scale).  CAS is totally different than using Free Transform's (CTRL T) Scale option.  With Scaling in Free Transform you can grab the bottom center handle and pull up.  The entire image gets squished.  In today's image the bridge would wind up being more of a dog run than something cars can go over.  So, Scale in Free Transform "ain't gonna" work.  The first time many people try Content Aware Scale they get the same thing.  They get confused and think CAS is dumb.

The key to using CAS is a two step deal.  One, make a Selection of what you what to remain the same size it starts out as.  Use the Selection to put a Layer Mask on the image.  In today's image it was easy.  I used the Rectangular Marque Tool (M) and selected everything from the top to the bottom of the bridge.  With the Selection active I clicked on the Create New Layer Mask (circle in a rectangle) icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel. 

Step two was to go to Edit/Content Aware Scale.  Now, here's the big trick (secret, technique).  In the Options Bar at the top of the screen you'll see The word Protect with a dropdown next to it.  Click on the dropdown and select whatever you selected that you wanted to not be effected by the scaling.  If you only made a Selection (didn't save it or use it to make a Mask) it will be called Alpha 1. 

Now, if you grab one of the handles (we our case the bottom handle) and drag you'll see that everything except the area you protected moves.  It either compresses that part of the image or expands it.  It depends on the way you move the handle.  Today's image was compressed.  During the summer I did one that needed to be lengthened.  In that case the handle was pulled rather than pushed.  Click on the Label below to find all the posts about CAS.

By compressing the rive it makes the image look like the camera was nearer the water level.  Try using CAS.  Just don't forget to protect the areas that will look bizarre if stretched or compressed.