My thoughts about photography, SCUBA diving, computers & photography related items

I was making a photo book of our trip this summer to the Cayman Islands. I was looking at photos of hawksbill turtles and I noticed a series that had a very distracting element in each. The distracting element is my good friend, Robin Reed from Delray Beach, Florida. There was one particular photo that I wanted to use in the book but I really wanted to take Robin out of the picture. Before I go any farther, I need to point out that Robin is not in the least bit distracting in real life. We were both trying to photograph the same turtle and I was on one side of the turtle and she was on the other. I am sure that I am a distracting element is some of her photos also.


You can see Robin’s camera, strobe and part of her body in the upper right hand corner. I fired up Adobe Photoshop CS5 to see what I could do. In the past, I would have tried the clone tool to fix this problem. Instead, I decided to try the new “content aware fill.”




I chose the lasso tool from the toolbar and drew a rough outline around the area that I wanted to remove (see below).






I chose “fill” from the “edit” menu and then chose “Content-Aware” from the “Use:” drop down box. I set the opacity at 100% and then clicked on “OK".”





You can see that Robin is gone.

I then chose “Deselect” from the “Select” menu and the photo was just the way that I wanted it to be.



I found another photo with Robin in it and I again wanted to remove her. This time was more difficult than my first try.


I used the lasso tool to draw around Robin and then chose “Edit” “Fill” “Use: Content-Aware.” The results showed part of the turtle’s fin and some of the gorgonian above the turtle. I used the lasso tool again and refined the area and used content-aware fill again.


After the send attempt, I had the edge of a gorgonian showing. I could live with that or I could easily clone it out. I did not attempt to use the content-aware fill again but now I think that I should have given it a try. Actually, I did go back and try it again. It took two rounds with content-aware fill to get what I wanted. On each round, I used the lasso to get closer to the remaining gorgonian. Here is the result:


I tried it yet again on a third photo (below):


The finished product (below):


One last photo (below) – before:


In this photo, I used the content-aware fill to remove Robin and the gorgonian from the top of the turtle. And the finished product (below):


I believe that there are places that content-aware fill will probably not work but where it does, it is a terrific tool.

I had a person order an 8” x 10” print on my web site. It was a photo of a little skate.


It was shot from above showing the whole animal. The problem that I had was that it would not crop to 8” x 10” without cutting off the tail or the nose. I thought that maybe content-aware fill might help.


In Photoshop CS5, I selected “Edit”, “Canvas Size” and enlarged the height of the canvas. I then chose the “Magic Wand” tool to select the upper white area of the canvas.


I chose “Edit”, “Fill”, “Content-Aware” and ended up with a pretty good fill except for the portion of the little skate that showed in the enlarged canvas area. I tried to use “content-aware fill” again but it did not help. Instead, I chose the “patch” tool located with the “healing” tool. I drew around the area where the fin showed and then dragged over to the right of the selected area. This did the trick.


That looks great. I now used the “magic wand” tool to select the white canvas area in the bottom of the image and used “Edit”, “File”, “Content-Aware.”


I now had a large enough canvas to crop the photo to 8” x 10” without clipping off the nose or the tail of the little skate. I set the crop tool to 10” wide x 8” high @ 300 dpi.


The finished image was just what I wanted and I knew that my customer would be pleased with the final result:


I seem to find new uses for content-aware fill everyday.

© 2011, Herb Segars. All rights reserved.


Copyright © 2011 Herb Segars Photography Blog

1 Comment so far »

  1. Robin Reed
    10:39 pm on March 1st, 2011

    Content aware worked great on one of my photos… are a great teacher!! Thanks.

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About Author

Herb Segars is a photographer who specializes in wildlife and marine subjects. He lives in Brick, New Jersey, USA with his wife, Veronica. Herb spends a great deal of time SCUBA diving and photographing in the nutrient rich Atlantic waters off his home state of New Jersey.

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