Introduction to Cleanup Tools
Cleanup tools, what I mean by this and the importance of these is that, the word 'cleanup' is used to define the process of concealing, replacing, or moving unwanted objects, blemishes, or imperfections in our photographs. So if you have something in there that doesn't look like it belongs, we can take it out. And I often feel like I have to justify this, but let's say you're shooting a waterfall, and a lot of times around waterfalls we have trees that fall down because they're so close to that water that they erode away and the tree is right there in the middle of that waterfall. That waterfall would look a lot better if that tree wasn't there. So we can use the data around that image to move that tree that has fallen in front of your image. I'm not He-Man, so I can't pick It up myself and move it out of the photo to take the photograph, but I know in post-production that's something that I could possibly do. And why would I do that? I want to do that to make the image more visually a...
ppealing for the viewer. Now when we do this we're not necessarily trying to degrade the integrity of the photograph or degrade the integrity of us as a person working on this image. I don't want you to confuse this with adding something that wasn't there. This is mainly if there's something in the photograph that needs to be cleaned up, we can do it. Perfect example, you're shooting in a city and there's some trash on the ground. Well, obviously there's trash in the city, but if it's right in there and it's white and it's stark and it's blowing right in front of someone's face, you're gonna want to remove that. Especially if it's trash in the city, white, specifically, because our eyes will naturally go to highest highlights first and then navigate around the image. So if that piece of trash is the whitest thing in the photograph, the viewer is gonna go directly to that and it's gonna ruin the entire image for you. So it can be a way that we can ensure that the viewer is getting the best possible view of the photograph that we are giving them, because we are the artist, they are the viewer, and we wanna give them the best experience possible. Here are some interesting stats. On my website I do a lot of critique sessions. I do 12 critique sessions a month, and in each one of those critique sessions I talk about things that work, things that don't work, and things that can be fixed, and a lot of times I fix them right in Photoshop. Interestingly enough, four out of five images during critique sessions have dust spots on them. So a dost spot is something that is on our sensor that when we take the picture, our sensor is actually reading the dust that's on the sensor. They're hard to visualize, but once you see them and once I show you what they look like, you know exaclty what they are and exactly how to fix them. And this is kind of an irritation for someone who does critiques for people. Because I teach this stuff all the time, and I just want you to just fix the dust spot 'cause it's a beautiful photograph and you got this spot in the middle of your sunset. Same thing with a portrait. If you're doing portrait work and we have a beautiful subject in front of us but they happen to have a pimple. Well that pimple wouldn't be there a week from now, so just go ahead and get rid of it. So pimples and dust spots are pretty close to one another. Two out of five images have something distracting in them that should be removed in order to make that a more pleasurable scene. Now when I say this I'm not talking about removing things that are important. So a lot of times we might look at a scene and we might see something that we think doesn't belong in there so we go ahead and remove it, or someone suggests that we remove it, but that object is actually something that-- Maybe a placard or something that actually is part of that scene. So if you remove it, that's kind of removing the integrity from that photo. A lot of times we do this with landmarks. If you're Photoshopping, I hate that verb. But if you're in Photoshop and you're going, and you're removing dust spots or removing things from your images and it happens to be something that is iconic for that scene, let's say cityscape or something like that, you might wanna leave those types of things in. But there's other things that we can remove. Like this image for example. You might not think that there's a whole lot in here that can be fixed, but there's actually seven things that I see in here that can be fixed and could all be fixed very easily using cleanup methods and cleanup tools. So first right off the bat, there's a little electric plate on the wall. If I'm doing real estate photography and it's for actually documenting the room, and it's not necessarily about where the electrical outlets are, we can go ahead and take those things out, 'cause they're just not, they get in the way and they distract the viewer's eye. There's another one on that wall in the back corner towards the middle. There's another right down here. If we look at the locks on the door, that just kinda creeps me out. (laughs) I'm like wait a second. I get it, you wanna be safe and all, but, you know, for the sake of the image, we can remove those things. And then we have the chandelier, if I'm not gonna show the whole thing, I should probably just remove it. And all these things can be done with the clone stamp tool. And even down there, you barely even see it, but that vent. That vent right there can be replaced too. And you think to yourself, maybe you're thinking, "Well I know the clone stamp tool "and how on Earth would I remove that?" Well sometimes it's not about using the healing tools but it's about using other parts of the image to our advantage, and I'll show you how to do that. But if we remove all those things, if we take all seven of those things and we take them outta the image, we get a more visually appealing image. You're the viewer at this point and you're seeing this. If I just gave you this, you would be none the wiser that there was a plate on the lower left hand corner, you know, the air plate, you wouldn't see the electrical plates, you don't see the locks, that are gonna bolt you in and keep you there forever, and the chandelier, look at that. Perfectly replaced. Here it was before. Here it was after. There is data within this image that we can use to our advantage to replace other areas within the photograph. We just have to know what tools to use, how to use them, and what to avoid. So I'm gonna tell you right off the bat the things that you want to avoid, right off the bat, if you're taking notes, avoid repeating patterns at all cost. Period. Avoid repeating patterns at all cost. And the reason why is that while you're using the clone stamp tool you might think you're doing a pretty good job with it, back out of it. Take a look at it, take a step back, look at it again, if there's any repeating patters, the viewer is gonna see it right away, and be a dead give away that you did something. There's a story about this. So, my wife and I are about to get married, and we're sourcing a bunch of different photographers, and one of them was actually a pretty good photographer. And they showed me their portfolio, and like, "Yeah, my wife's really good in Photoshop. "You can't even tell that the chair has been removed here." And I looked at it 'cause he showed me where it was and I said, "Well you know, chairs have four legs." And he goes, "Yeah." I said, "This one has six." And he goes, "Oh, yeah. "Well, I guess we need to doctor that one up." So, keep those things in mind that yeah it might look like just by taking an automated process that you're gonna see here with these tools, you can't always go with the automated process and sometimes you have to use your own intuition to take different parts of the photograph to fill in the areas that we need to fill in. So let's go ahead and migrate over to Photoshop and we're gonna start off in the most basic of all the tools to do this, and that's gonna Adobe Camera Raw.