How To Remove Distracting Objects in Photoshop
An easy mistake that a lot of photographers make, is leaving distractions in their images. They can be so quickly cleaned up and removed and should never be overlooked. A distraction can be anything from a bright light to a person, or in this case general mess and obscurities. Distractions can be avoided when shooting, it doesn’t all have to be dealt with in post-processing. In this tutorial, we’ll look at how to remove distracting objects in Photoshop using the Patch Tool, how to avoid it in-camera, and why this is important.
Why is it Important to Avoid and Remove Distractions?
In our images we want the immediate focus to be on an interesting subject. If our images have distractions in them, the viewer’s eye will wander. With the example image that we are using for this tutorial, the important subject to me is the sky for a number of reasons. The main reason being that the long grasses in the foreground are almost creating a barrier that is obscuring our view of the lake. Had the long grass not have been there, this might have been a much more interesting photo. The long grass couldn’t be avoided in the scene and is close to impossible to remove in Photoshop. To avoid this distraction, the photographer would have needed to choose a different location.
The foreground is particularly distracting in this image. Some of these distractions could have been physically avoided. Whereas, others not so much. There are loads of sticks in the foreground that are very distracting. Theses are extremely difficult to remove in post-processing. However, if the photographer had have gotten to the location in good time, they might have been able to pick up these sticks and remove them from the scene and therefore removing some distractions.
Finally, the distraction that we will fix in this tutorial. The small tufts of vegetation in the immediate foreground. Again, a foreground should be inviting, it should draw you into the scene. We’ve already established that the high grass is a barrier. But, it’s far enough into the scene that it doesn’t really affect the immediate foreground. Even though the tufts of grass seem small and insignificant, they do stop the foreground from being inviting. Their presence gives us the immediate thought that we can’t walk there. Although we can look over them and far beyond into the image, we can’t immerse ourselves in the image, we can only peer into the scene.
– Tutorial continued below –
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How To Remove Distracting Objects in Photoshop
1. First, copy your background layer by dragging the layer down to the “Add New Layer” icon and releasing your mouse button.
2. Now we have a copy layer to work on so that we don’t damage the original image.
3. Select the patch tool. If you don’t see the patch Tool, either right-click on the tool icon that you do see between the Eyedropper and the Paintbrush to bring up the tool selection window. Alternatively, repeatedly press Shift+J until the Patch Tool is selected.
4. Make sure your settings are the same as ours.
5. Change the diffusion setting to the maximum value to give a smoother feathered edge.
6. Now that you have the Patch tool selected, and the setting set correctly, press and hold down your left mouse key and draw around an object that you wish to remove.
7. When you have drawn all the way around the object, release the mouse button. This will give you an active selection of the Destination area.
8. Hover inside the selected area and again, hold down the left mouse button. this time, drag the selection to an area that you want to use to cover the object. We will call this the Selection area.
9. Once your Destination selection is over a suitable Selection area release the mouse button to remove the object.
10. If you are working with larger areas you will need to make sure you have a suitably sized Selection area to accommodate the Destination area.
11. Be sure to avoid and pattern repeats. We have copied a strong indentation in the rock and also a stick. Use the patch tool to remove any copied content. The human brain searches for patterns automatically, so obvious repeats are easy to spot.
Here’s the before and after. After spending only a few minutes to remove these small distractions, the foreground of this image is so much more inviting. Avoid distractions in your scene, if you can remove them physically, then do so before capturing the image. If the distractions are unavoidable, then decide if you will be able to remove them in post-processing. If you don’t think you can remove them, look for another angle.
Photo by Saltiola Photography on Unsplash
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