Photo Stories,  Software

Photo Story: Soft Pink Hibiscus (plus how I cleaned up the background)

While traveling to India on business, I like to take morning photo walks in the hotel garden. 

Soft Pink Hibiscus

Soft Pink Hibiscus

In tropical destinations, the gardens at the hotels can be beautiful and provide some terrific photo opportunities as well.

I really liked the composition of this hibiscus photo.  It’s long stamen matched perfectly with a portrait orientation for the photograph.  The stem also leads the eye into the flower from the upper right corner.

While I got the background as clean as possible in the camera, I still spent quite a bit of time cleaning up the background in Photoshop. 

To clean up the background of this hibiscus photograph, I used a technique using layer masks, the transform feature and the move tool in Photoshop.  I find that this approach can sometimes provide a more natural look to the background over using the clone stamp.  Here is a step by step approach to the technique to clean up the background.

  • Copy the background layer by pressing Command J (Mac) / Control J (Windows)
  • For the next step you’ll want to align a clean background area in the photo with the part of the background you want to clean up.  Use the transform flip / rotate feature in the edit menu and the move tool to align the background in the new layer.
  • Add a black layer mask to the new layer by holding down the option key (Mac) Alt key (Windows) and clicking the layer mask icon at the bottom of the layers panel.
  • Select the brush tool with a white foreground color.
  • Ensure the layer mask is selected by clicking on it and paint the area you want replaced with the brush.  The clean background from the new layer will be exposed in the foreground.
  • I like to use the healing brush tool to blend the colors in the area.
  • Repeat as necessary to different areas of the background.

Details

Camera:  Olympus OM-D E-M1
Lens:   Olympus 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 Lens
Focal Length: 50mm
ISO:  400
Aperture:   f/6.0
Shutter Speed: 1/60 of a second
Exposure Compensation: -3/10
Lighting: Sunny Morning

Processing

  • Cropped the photo in Lightroom 5. 
  • Replaced unwanted background elements in Photoshop CC.  See above for the technique.
  • Used the Fur and Feathers I filter in Topaz Clarity.
  • Applied the Detail Extractor Filter in Color Efex Pro 4.
  • Used Viveza 2 to selectively lighten and darken areas of the photo.
  • Selectively removed noise from the photo using Topaz DeNoise.
  • Applied the Warm Haze I Filter from Topaz Impression.
  • Added a Vignette to the final image using the Vignette: Lens Filter in Color Efex Pro 4.

Written by Martin Belan

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