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Content Aware Feature vs Healing Tools

Lesson 37 from: Travel Photography: The Complete Guide

Ben Willmore

Content Aware Feature vs Healing Tools

Lesson 37 from: Travel Photography: The Complete Guide

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

37. Content Aware Feature vs Healing Tools


Class Trailer



Course Introduction


Camera Gear for Travel


What Camera Gear Should You Buy?


Gear Bags for Travel Photography


Location Research and Pre-Trip Planning


Importing and Naming Conventions in Lightroom


Processing Images with Presets in Lightroom


Lesson Info

Content Aware Feature vs Healing Tools

If you need to retouch out anything that touches the edges of the frame, or kisses the edge of an object, meaning it dead-ends into an object, then you usually wanna stay away from the Stop Healing Brush, and the Healing Brush, those two tools. And that's when you want to use instead that Content-Aware Fill feature. So let me first show you what the Spot Healing Brush would do. It actually worked this time. (laughs) Most of the time the Spot Healing Brush would not work, instead it will do what it did on the... What do you call it, the image that I had earlier, remember, that I had a lamp and a wall with maybe a window, when it matched the surroundings. They did make some changes, and the newest version of Photoshop and the newest version came out only, what was it, a week, two weeks ago, or something like that. And there's a chance they fixed this and I'm just not aware of it, I haven't used it since. Well, I'll try it one more time and see if it messes up, if it doesn't that cool. It...

only messed up right there, where it actually hit the top, so it seems like they'd actually done some improvements on it. But if you every are working on something that hits the edge of your frame, or buds up against another object, the Content-Aware Fill, the thing where you go to the Edit menu and choose Fill will usually do a better job. But then lets look at how to really think about some of our tools. If you look at the image I'm about to open, I wanna retouch on it, and I'm gonna show you how to think about healing any other features by just taking a look at this area up here. I'm gonna choose the Healing Brush tool. What the Healing Brush tool does is it allows me to copy from one area, where I pick the area I copy from, and it applies it somewhere else. But when it's done copying it over there it makes sure it precisely matches the brightness and color of the surroundings. And that means I can copy from up here, the top of this little, I'm assuming this is a fire warning alarm, or something, I can Option-click there, I can come down here to apply it. And in the newest version, it actually has a live preview. And right now, do you see in the live preview, that you see some blurry yellow stuff, well, not yellow, white. Well that's because if it's trying to blend them with the surroundings, what's directly outside of the area that I've painted is the white text, the stuff that's left over, and it's still blending in. But if I go far enough down, I should start to get it where instead of blending into that white text it actually starts blending in to the surroundings, like that. And I can get rid of that text if I wanted to. Now, if you have an older version of Photoshop, you don't have the absolute newest release, and the absolute newest release is very new, then you wouldn't get that live preview. Where you would see exactly where it's about to blend in with. Instead you have to release the mouse button before you'd see it blend in. But check this out, I'll choose Undo, I'm gonna copy from this white box, Option-click. And try to use it over here. You'd think that that just wouldn't work. It's the wrong content, isn't it? But let's see what happens. It worked fine. Why, it doesn't make sense, right? That's because you have to know how Healing tools work. Healing tools do not blatantly copy the source area. Instead Healing tools only copy the variation in brightness from that source area. So if you look at the source area, how much did it vary in brightness? Well across this flat part of it it pretty much didn't vary at all, and that's what'd made this half, where it pretty much doesn't vary at all across here. The problem happens when I get to this curved edge, if this curved edge over here is a little bit brighter or darker in comparison, like the highlight gets brighter 'cause it's a shiny object let's say, and this one wasn't shiny, then it might not look right. But I'll choose and do again, just to show you more let me copy from down here, where it's so blatantly wrong it's crazy. And I'll try to use it. Now it replaced the text, but look at what it put in. The wrong variation in brightness. You can use the word texture if you'd like, or variation in brightness, or whatever, but that's where it's copying the color and the brightness comes from the surroundings. And so you need to keep that in mind when you're using these tools. And what that means is I have a much wider variety of areas I can copy from. I don't have to pick something with the right color. I can retouch a blur object using a red source as long as it has the proper texture. And so if it's a blue sweater, has, you know, weave fabric, and that's what's supposed to be over there, fine. But you just gotta keep that in your mind, your mindset. So with this, the way I think about dealing with retouching is, in general, there are four tools I use the most. There is the Clone Stamp Tool, looks like the little rubber-stamp. I use that one when all other tools fail, and what I'm trying to do, is break up a big problem into smaller chunks. We did that when we had that green light sitting there and just all the tools didn't seem to be working. Well I said, is there any way I can turn this into two littler chunks to make them more easily-digestible. And it's usually that tool that helps me do that. I just look in the surrounding and say exactly what brightness-wise and color-wise should be in here, and I try to break it apart in two chunks by getting that proper brightness, proper color to separate. Then, I try to use that help me by doing most of the work for me. That means I end up going to the Spot Healing Brush, or Content-Aware Fill. One of those two things. And I see if I can tackle those areas. And usually when it tackles it often times it will screw up. If it screws up, I say I'm gonna get a smaller area, just the smaller area when it still screwed up, and I'll do that. And hopefully, each time it screws up on a smaller and smaller area, so that after I hit it three or four times it's gone, it's fixed. And I'll do that. Then when none of that works, that's the only time I wanna do it manually. Where I go to my Clone Stamp tool and I manually copy from one area and then just manually apply it somewhere else. And in doing so, I'm gonna need to make sure that the brightness is right, the color is right, the texture is right, and my brush is soft enough to make it blend in. I don't enjoy doing that, and that's why I try to use the other tools as my primary means. But I wanted to share with you that. And then my Clone Stamp tool, when I use it, to make it more versatile that's when I hold down Shift + Option, and remember keys can reposition what you're about to apply. Those bracket keys, larger or smaller. And the greater than and less than keys will rotate. But to reset back to normal we need to pop open the Clone Stamp, or Clone Source panel and hit that little icon that looks like a U-turn. So there's a matter of all sorts of things, we can Retouch, but we only have so much time and images, it all depends on what we wanna do. I wanted to make sure we have time for maybe couple of brief questions about retouching things, and then I wanna kinda summarize some of the stuff we've been talking about. So do we have any questions we wanna think of? Let's see, feel free to pick up a mic and here I do have a fun comment from Sam, which also has some votes, that says, "I feel like I'm getting my BW degree, "my Ben-Willmore degree, in Photoshop in the last hour." (laughs) Which is great, thank you. I'm not sure if you've answered this, but this is from Kirby, "In a last retouching example, again, "why didn't the Healing Cloning brush pick up the tan color of the wall, when over-writing Puego?" Because anything with the word Healing attached to it, that means, the Spot Healing Brush, or the normal Healing Brush, there's two of them, they copy variation in brightness, they don't blatantly copy what's over there. The color in the brightness of your end-result is not determined by where you copy from. It's determined by what surrounds the area where you applied the retouching. What is one pixel outside of where you painted. It grabs those colors, it grabs that brightness. And that's is makes sure it precisely matches. And that's why, that's just how it works. It's an interesting way of thinking, yeah. And so, is there no way to select whether it's just the color, just the texture that is cloned? No, there's not. There is a setting at the top, you can tell it to... I have to look when I'm in it... At the top there's a choice, up here I can tell it to just do a pattern. I can tell it to do Sampled. And if I go to the Spot Healing Brush, the one that does things automatically, I can have it try to create it's own texture from scratch. I can have it try to match something in the surroundings, that kind of stuff. But nothing where I really have control over what they're bringing up, yeah. Could you use that in an advantage, when you're like retouching skin, let's say someone's skin is really rough and you can take a smooth texture and heal with that? Go get a picture of a baby's butt. (laugh) Baby's butt's got skin texture to it, it's not like it's just a blue sky. I know you like, (laughs) she's going, "You're kiddin' me!" You think I'm kiddin' (laughs) Clone from that. You can clone between documents, too. If you have two documents open go to the document that has the content you want to copy from, Option-click from within it, to say, this is what I wanna copy from, switch to a different document, just keep both of them open, and now when you do your retouching you're copying from that one. You can literally copy from a baby's butt and apply it to somebody's face, and they're gonna have this nice smooth skin, and stuff. Yes, so you can so that kind of stuff. Thank you. All right, well let's think about what we've been doing here. I wanna give you kinda some ideas about how to put this together. If you back up to where we started. We started talking about gear. Because gear is important. And I mentioned that lenses that I personally use and part of the reasons why I have those lenses. We didn't completely get the picture that until recently. Where I showed you about compressing space and expanding space with our lenses. So I tried to give you a pretty good picture of that. Tried to tell you how do I think about f-stops, how do I figure out what setting to use in a particular situation. And also with this class, if you happen to get it, I gave you a PDF of all the gear that I use, gives you a list of all that stuff. And even beyond that, before you even go out shooting, you have to start planning. So we've talked about some of the tools that I use, like Google Earth to research where's the light gonna happen in different locations, that type of stuff. And if you happen to purchase the course, remember, there's actually a 12-page guide that comes with those that purchased the course, that covers pre-trip planning. And I happen to have a copy of it here. Here's the Pre-Trip Planning Guide. And it goes through what websites I go to to do research. What do I do at those websites. What searches that I type in when I'm trying to find various locations, and find out information about it. How can I find good photos of a location, that give me ideas about angles that I might find, that type of stuff. And how do I find out about the reality of that location. Meaning how many tourists are gonna be there, that kind of stuff. And it goes through all sorts of other things. Apps, websites that I use. So, hopefully, by having that in your possession you'll be much more prepared when you get to a location. So you know about the gear, you know about preping for the particular location. Then we go in to, how do I think in that location? How do I create a successful image? And so if you think about, we talked about composition. We talked about a lot of different concepts with composition. The problem is there's a lot. And you're not gonna be able to get them all in your head at once. And so, what I did is created a PDF where we took each concept about being in the field and capturing successful images. And we made one little page for each concept. This only shows what, one, two, three, four, eight pages of that PDF. We happen to composite them together, but we used a format to try to make them useful. One that would fit on your iPhone, or just smart phone, if you don't have an iPhone. And therefore, you can be in the field and you can flip through it. And say, what are some of those concepts? To get some memories going in your head, because you don't always remember them all. But what I would most suggest you do with those is that you concentrate on just two or three concepts at once until it becomes second nature. And then once they become second nature start trying to add two or three more. And then, over year's time, you might get them all in there, and if you do, you probably gonna become much more successful at shooting. But shooting isn't all of it. When you get home, you gotta know what do I do with my pictures. And ideally, you should be able to find any important image in five seconds. You should be able to look in any folder and tell, have I worked on these images? How many are ready to show somebody. How quickly can I get those ready to show. Well, you should be able to get 'em ready to show with one click. Just click on the name of the folder, there they are, those are the pictures ready to show. I can look and say how many are in progress, how many are outtakes, how many are personal, all that kinda stuff. So I tried to put this all together. And part of it though is that for travel photography is making is fast. And that's why, if you buy the course, you get over 400 adjustment pre-sets. Those 400 presets are gonna make it so much faster. You just move your mouse over to where the pre-sets are, you hover over them, you see a preview up above, you find the one that needs, click, then you go down to another set of presets, maybe to do something with color and other things, and you can get your image where it's 90% done with maybe three or four clicks. Move to the right side, and fine-tune. Once you think you got your image done though, you're not done. If you think you're done though, that means you won't be able to find that image in the future. It'll be in your brain instead of in a system. So I give you a full keyword list that has taken me years to put together. And through that you can organize your images much more easily, and make it so when you take something with the word Child, suddenly you can also find it when you search for Young, or Kid, or things like that. Because a lot of effort has gone into it.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Lightroom Presets Quickstart Guide
Lightroom Preset Sampler
Pre-Trip Planning
Actions Sampler Guide
Travel Photography Handbook
Actions Sampler
Lightroom Keywords
Big Set of Lightroom Presets
Practice Images
Travel Photogtaphy Mobile Guide
Gear List
Lightroom Tips and Keyboard Shortcuts

Ratings and Reviews


This was simply an amazing experience! Without a doubt the best investment of time and money I have experienced in quite awhile. Ben's complete command of the subject, the practical tips, suggestions and reference information was outstanding. I have enjoyed point and shoot photography for some time and recently decided to invest in some decent DSLR equipment (Canon EOS D70). I have a trip to Cape Town and Johannesburg South Africa rapidly approaching and thought it might be a good idea to take some classes and make an effort to get up the learning curve ASAP to take advantage of this travel opportunity. "Discovering" Creativelive and Ben Willmore's class was literally an answer to prayer! There is nothing like sitting at the foot of wisdom, taking notes, and having numerous "ah-ha" moments! This was great....looking forward to more classes. Thanks for the high quality effort!

a Creativelive Student

Genius! Ben is a brilliant master teacher - focused, clear and holds back no information. The best! This course has condensed the equivalent of 10 courses into one. He is a perfectionist in his approach and knows how to present the material. He is the leader in photoshop and photography "par excellence". Highly recommend any of his courses. Save your time and start with the best - everyone loves Ben!!!!

Nichole Sams

I feel the title of this class, Travel Photography, is much to limiting for what you are really going to get. As a wedding photographer, who dreams of traveling, I attending the class live in Seattle, and was hoping to get some inspiration for on location shoots. What I got, however, was a WHOLE LOT MORE. I would recommend this class to anyone with a camera and Lightroom. What I learned about how lightroom works and how to integrate it with photoshop is invaluable. I actually think they should charge WAY more for this course. The bonuses with purchase from the keywords (we are talking every key word you could possibly imagine) and the presets (holycow everything you would ever need) are worth exponentially more than the course price itself. Ben is a gentle easy going teacher and nice to listen to. His ease of teaching pretty complex ideas was truly wonderful. If you are reading this you must buy this course, it is well worth it!

Student Work