Photoshop CS6 Content Aware Tools

Every Photoshop release seems to come out with a new feature that makes you jump up and shout, “Wowly heck!” It’s looking like CS6 won’t be the exception.

The content-aware tools have taken their vitamins and grown stronger than ever. Moving objects around in your photos has never been easier. Check out this video for proof:

There’s a few other sneak preview videos available on Photoshop’s Youtube channel. The improved Camera RAW features actually have me a bit more excited than the content-aware magic, but locally adjusting noise in RAW is a little less dramatic than casually moving parts of your scene around in an image.

Photoshop Deblurring Sneak Preview

Check out this video on a plugin for Photoshop that removes blur from photos – a potential feature in future versions of Photoshop just might make you gasp in awe as it did for this audience at Adobe Max 2011:

It looks like photographers may soon be able to rescue images from previously unusable states of blurriness. I don’t expect this to be a substitute for good shooting technique, but everybody makes mistakes. If this software can help fix those mistakes, as Rainn Wilson says, people will love this. If nothing else, it should raise the quality of drunken iphone photos on facebook.

Cross your fingers for this to be included in CS6.

CS5 Officially Unveiled

Adobe has put up a page detailing the new features available in Photoshop CS5 here. Highlights for photographers include content-aware fill, the new warping tools, refined selection tools and improved HDR use.

Get details about all the Creative Suite packages and their components from here.

An official release is expected within a month. In the meantime, there are already a number of videos available at the Photoshop CS5 Learning Centre.

PhotoShop CS5 Comes with Magic

Editing your images looks like it might just get a lot easier with PhotoShop CS5.

Adobe will be revealing details about the upcoming Creative Suite programs on April 12, but if you can’t wait until then to start your salivating, check out this video that features the new Content Aware Fill tool.

If it works as advertised, I can’t even tell you how useful this will be. Seriously, it’s magic!

No release date has been set for the final product, but perhaps we’ll be able to get a better idea of when to expect a launch at their April 12th event.

Photo of the Day – La Perdrera

I’m currently going through images from my trip to Barcelona last year and just processed this one from La Pedrera, one of Antoni Gaudi’s brilliant Art Nouveau apartment buildings. Also known as Casa Mila, this UNESCO world heritage site is full of Gaudi’s signature organic shapes and whimsical design.

This photo shows the view up to the sky from one of the many oddly-shaped courtyards below. It’s composed of five shots combined to make an HDR image. As tripods aren’t allowed inside La Pedrera, I had to shoot handheld which is never ideal for combining images in this way. But, thanks to Photoshop CS4’s improved ability to align layers, it all worked out.

I rarely get the results I want from Photoshop’s automatic HDR tool. Instead, I tend to throw all the different exposures into separate layers and go to town with masking. It gives better control over the final image and I can generally prevent the nasty halo effects that come with some automated HDR procedures.

Click the image for a larger version on flickr:

La Pedrera

Quicklinks for Thursday, January 22, 2009

A plethora of photography links for you on this fine day:

  • has a 40 minute retouching tutorial that takes you from start to finish on the retouching of a fashion shot.
  • If you didn’t learn enough from that, Photoshop Support has a few more videos for you to check out on skin retouching.
  • For those of you now using Photoshop CS4, Yuri Arcurs has some tips on how to optimize your settings to get the best performance out of the software. However, some of these tips may end up being unnecessary in the near future as is reporting that Adobe is planning an update to CS4 soon.
  • Five FWD have a fun video in which they compare film and digital prints, big ones. 17 meter ones to be precise. They take a look at how a a 12 megapixel Nikon D700 stacks up against the same shot using 35mm film using massive enlargements. I have to get myself one of those printers (and gallons of ink) and then I can decorate my apartment building with my shots!
  • Simon Hoegsberg has printed the world’s longest photograph.

A few from Digital Photography School:

  • This article gives advice on what you might need to do to start freelancing for your local newspaper.
  • Fashion photographer Adriana Curcio gives seven important tips for aspiring photogs.
  • Lastly, more tips. This time it’s Chase Jarvis dishing out some tips. The most interesting part of it for me is his commentary on the creative gap, an idea I’m going to have to mull over a bit. I had never heard this expression of it before and I like the idea. It’s something that I (and probably most people) already do, but it’s nice to have it spelled out so that you can consciously make the effort to bridge that creative gap.

Photoshop CS4 Preview Roundup

If you’re a nerd like me, new Photoshop releases always make for a fun trip around the web to check out the previews that detail new features and gadgets in the software.

Baltics Photos Trickling In

Between addressing mysteriously non-functional contact forms on this site and pulling my hair out because of a massive amount of corrupt image files, I’ve managed to upload a group of galleries of photos from Vilnius Lithuania. There is plenty more where that came from and sometime tomorrow (depending on where in the world you are), there should be a complete set of my photos from that beautiful city.

For those of you who are curious, those corrupt files of mine are, in fact, my Baltics photos. All the RAW files that I had sorted seem now to have corrupt headers and Photoshop won’t open them at all. All these RAW files are saved elsewhere, but they are unsorted and unprocessed, so this glitch is more than a little bit irritating. What’s strange about it though: All the files still open in Lightroom. I guess I’ll be learning that app pretty quickly! So, the data is all there – it’s just some messed up header or something that’s preventing the files from opening.

The files seem to have gotten corrupted when I (and apparently, this was a foolish mistake) renamed my folder from “Baltics” to “Baltics sorted.” After that, every RAW file in there got sick.

I don’t know if this is related to the problems people are experiencing with OS 10.5.3 and Photoshop CS3, but it seems like it might be the case (even though I wasn’t saving remotely). Either way, for all you users out there who have this combination of OS and software: back up now! Now!

To top it all off, since the forms on my site aren’t working, (cross your fingers for a good reply from my host!), even if someone goes to my contact page and mails me a miracle fix, I won’t get the message! Best to leave it in the comments. Any happy thoughts are welcome too.

Update: Why didn’t anyone tell me to update my Camera RAW plugin? That fixed it all up. No corrupt files, just a messed up plugin. Too bad I panicked when I saw my files wouldn’t open and immediately assumed they were corrupted. Rookie mistake.

Oh well. All’s well that end’s well!

Adobe Camera RAW 4.1 Released

Adobe has released version 4.1 of the Camera RAW plugin for Photoshop CS3. Mac users can download the plugin here and Windows users get it here.

This release adds support for a number of cameras, but it also has some helpful new features. has a handy article detailing what’s new in Camera RAW 4.1.

Photoshop CS3 Beta Available

Download the beta here!

Photoshop CS3 Preview

The National Association of Photoshop Professionals has a good, first look at some of the new features that will be in Photoshop CS3. Among the highlights are the improved functionality of Camera RAW and a big upgrade to the Bridge application.

There appears to be a lot of other potentially-useful functionality appearing in CS3, so hurry up and have a look!

Photoshop CS3 Public Beta Available this Friday

AppleInsider is reporting that Adobe will be releasing a public beta of PhotoShop CS3 this Friday:

“The Photoshop CS3 beta, which will be posted to the Adobe Labs website on friday, will include Adobe Bridge and Device Central components, and be available simultaneously for both the Mac and Windows operating systems.”

In addition to the feature additions that will be available, this release should get a lot of people excited for the fact that it will be a Universal Binary release meaning that it will be natively supported on Apple’s Intel-based computers. Unfortunately, for owners of those machines, they will have to wait a little longer to try out the UB PhotoShop CS3:

“People familiar with the Macintosh version of the editor confirm it to be a Universal Binary which ‘simply screams’ on Apple Computer’s new Intel-based hardware. However, they tell AppleInsider that this week’s beta will include only the standard version of Photoshop CS3.”

For this Friday’s release, it’s only PhotoShop CS3 that will make its debut. Other Creative Suite applications will stay under wraps a little longer:

“…the San Jose, Calif.-based software developer does not plan to release or discuss details of other Creative Suite 3.0 applications, such as Illustrator, Dreamweaver and InDesign.”

Head to AppleInsider for more details.

Dear Digg, Reddit and

Thanks for all the traffic! It’s encouraging to have so many people check out the photoshop tutorial I posted yesterday. Thanks also to all the other sites that have linked the article – there’s too many to name here, but I do appreciate it. I’ll have to see about putting together more articles for you.

A few commenters here and on other sites suggested that the technique I posted had alternatives and they are right. Sometimes, it may be possible to use a small aperture and/or a neutral density filter to bring about a lengthy exposure time. The result will be that the people in your photo will be relatively invisible if they are moving – there won’t be enough hitting them in the same place at the same time for the sensor/film plane to pick up their shape.

The difficulty with this technique is that there is a high potential for streaks to appear in your images from where the people were moving. Especially if there is a group of people, you are likely to get a smear where the group moved through your image. And if anyone stops, there will probably be a blurred, ghostly figure showing up in your picture.

Another popular alternative on various sites was to physically eliminate tourists using, baseball bats, guns, or whatever weapon happened to be handy. As frustrating as it can sometime be to wait for people to leave your shot, I can’t endorse this technique. Especially considering the stories I’ve heard about some foreign prisons!

There are also the people decry the removal of tourists from photos altogether. Sure, some people want them in there, but some don’t. I wrote the tutorial for the latter. I shoot both scene with and without tourists. When I want a scene without tour groups in it, it’s nice to have this technique in my bag of tricks.

Lastly, on a non-photo note, I want to say a big thank you to my hosts, Hostrocket for successfully managing a colossal amount of traffic. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my site remained available while getting so flooded with hits.

How to Remove Tourists from Your Photos

Every notable landmark seems to have one thing in common: visitors, and lots of them. But if you want that postcard shot or that image that shows how the location may have once appeared, you have a challenge ahead of you. This digital photography and PhotoShop tutorial will provide a means to remove the tourist throngs from your vacation images.

Taking the Photos

The technique I will describe here applies to photos you have yet to take. Unfortunately, there is no single easy way to get rid of people in the shots you already have. But instead of agonizing over long clone-stamping sessions, you can take shots that will yield vacant sites with only minimal PhotoShop work.

To start, you’ll want to be taking your photos with a tripod. A remote release or timer will also help (it will minimize the possibility that you may inadvertently move your camera between shots). You will also want to shoot using manual settings. As the scene changes, your camera meter may change your exposure values and that will make your PhotoShop work more difficult.

At busy sites, once you have composed your shot, you will find there is no end of tourist flow through your frame. You may find yourself quickly giving up on an image because you know that as soon as one group of visitors starts leaving, another will soon take its place. You might get lucky and everyone will flee the scene, but if you are short on time and/or patience, you may not be able to hold out forever.

The trick is, with your tripod-mounted camera, you can take your shot with people in it. Then, once people have moved a bit, you can take a second photo.

As an example, look at this photo I took at the ruins of Ta Prohm in Cambodia near Angkor Wat:

A lot of tourists loitering in the scene don’t make for such a great photo of a place that evokes imagery of explorers discovering a long-lost ruin. But with a little patience, I was able to get another shot of the scene with fewer people:

What’s important to note in this scene is where the tourists are and where they are not:

Make a mental note of the parts of the scene that were occupied by people. Then, as those parts of the scene empty, take a shot. The rest of the scene doesn’t need to be vacant, just the parts that were previously full:

Now, while still thinking of our mental note of what areas need to be vacated, we can still see one man occupying part of the photo. When he moves, we can take our final shot.

Putting it Together in PhotoShop

Once you have your sequence of shots you will want to open all of them up in Photoshop then copy and paste all of them into a single document as separate layers with your first shot as the bottom layer in the document. If you are shooting in RAW format, make sure that if you change settings for one of the images, you make the same changes to all of the images so that their exposures, white balance and other settings match.

Image Alignment

If there are small differences between the alignment of your images, select the Move Tool and use the arrow keys to nudge the layers into alignment. A handy trick for this is to change the blending mode of the top layer to “Difference,” then nudge the layer using the arrow keys. The closer the resulting image is to black, the better the alignment. Once you have finished the alignment, change the blending mode of the top layer back to “Normal.”


For now, we will make the top layer invisible (click the eye icon next to the Photo 3 layer). Next with the Photo 2 layer selected, create an empty mask for that layer, by clicking the mask icon while holding down OPTION on the Mac and ALT on the PC. Your mask should now be black and the entire layer is hidden.

Now it’s time to get rid of the people in your photo. Select the brush tool and use a brush with a feathered edge. Make sure the foreground colour is white, then Start painting into the mask of the Photo 2 layer in the places occupied by tourists. You will see the people magically disappear from the image!

Once you have removed as many people as you can by painting on the Photo 2 layer, make the Photo 3 layer visible, create an empty mask for it and paint out the remaining person. If you have to take more than three photos, keep repeating the process to erase any remaining stragglers.

You now have a landmark free of people!

Click here to see a larger version. And check here for more of my photos from Ta Prohm and Cambodia.


While shooting, if you waiting for any appreciable period of time between shots, the light in the scene may have changed. Once you have completed your masking and removed the people, you may be able to discern differences in lighting in the areas where the people were and where they now are not.

If the difference isn’t too off, you can correct this by making active the layer where the people are not present. Then, you can either any of PhotoShop’s tools in the “Image > Adjustments” menu to correct the change in light between the shots.

The Art of Photo-Manipulation

CBS News has an article about the current state of image alteration citing a number of famous photo manipulations that have made the news in recent years.

It includes this quote:

“‘The analogy I always like to draw is, imagine a pile of sand […] And when does it go from a couple of grains of sand to a pile? And surely, taking one grain of sand on and off doesn’t fundamentally change the pile of sand. But at some point, it’s no longer a mound of sand, and it’s just a couple grains. But where did that transition happen?'”

Adobe Lightroom Beta 3 for OS X

Adobe has just released Adobe Lightroom Beta 3, their RAW image processing solution currently only for Mac OS X. Download and try this public beta release at the above link.

For extensive coverage of the functions in this release, read’s article on Lightroom Beta 3.

Edit: I just had a quick look at the program and I personally find that it’s still far too slow for my purposes. I’m running a 1.5 GHz Powerbook with 1.5 GB RAM, so I am above the system requirements, but operations that happen quickly in Adobe Camera RAW just take too long with Lightroom. I hope that the program speeds up in future releases because a number of the features are attractive and it could be a good addition to my workflow.

Camera Raw Default Settings

The Luminous Landscape has a brief, but good article about taking control of the auto settings in Adobe Camera Raw.

I use this trick myself. While I sometimes use the automatic settings as a starting point for processing my images, I find it helpful to begin the process with the image as it appeared in the camera. Once you have changed your defaults so that no adjustments are initially made, it is a quick press of Command/Control + U and you can see the automatic conversion. Going the other way involves a few more button presses.

And like Michael Reichmann notes in the article, it is often the case that the automatic adjustments flatten bracketed exposures into separate images that all look the same. It’s much simpler to view these images initially in their original state than it is to have to uncheck all the boxes that have been adjusted by the auto processing.

Before and After Photo Retouching Examples

Brian Dilg has an interesting gallery of retouching examples that show the before and after of a photo and his thorough adjustments to the original image.

These pictures remind us that in this age of ubiquitous Photoshop trickery, what you see is no longer what you get.

As a side note, this site doesn’t seem to load up properly in Safari, so you might want to check it out in another browser.

Adobe CS2 Announced

The next version of the Creative Suite line of software from Adobe is set to be shipped in May. dpreview has a succinct round-up of what’s new in PhotoShop CS2.