Do you know those awesome architectural pictures you have – which would be really awesome if it weren’t for some object taking away from their beauty? Sounds familiar, right? But what to do about them? You can’t just go to the people using the crane and ask them to remove the crane for a minute… (if you DO go out and try it, please tell me about your results 😉 ).
I don’t know how you got rid of them during the film days but I do know how you can get rid of them in the digital age. As you may know (or will know now) I use Aperture for organizing and processing of my pictures. Aperture 2 added a lot of very cool editing features and one of them makes taking out unwanted objects really easy: The retouching brush.
Link to a tutorial on the retouching brush
It can be used both for cloning other part of the image (for example for taking out dust spots) or for retouching the image. The retouching is intelligent, meaning that you can use a big brush over the area and it will find the part that you want to take out of your picture. In my example it was this hideous pole right behing the cathedral as well as the crane on the side:
(be sure to click on them to see larger versions to really see how distracting the elements were)
It was as easy as three brush strokes to take these elements out of the picture and the photo has a lot higher appeal because of it. A really simple step but it has a huge impact on your picture. Normally, I’m not in favor of altering the pictures you take (apart from correcting the color, lighting, etc.) but this an instance where the result justifies the means. The picture isn’t missing vital parts due to my retouching, it only focuses more on the main subject.
I’ve got another example from my trip to Berlin. In downtown Berlin there is a small island in the river on which all major museums were built and which house museums to this day. For reasons I cannot understand they added big flags to the top of the buildings, stating the names of the museums. This would not be so bad but those flags are bright red – and I mean bright. Here is a close look at that flag:
And now imagine that flag on top of an architectual beauty:
(overexposed picture for my HDR of the building)
Here is the photo without the flag and as an HDR made from three different RAW files:
Sure, the cranes are distracting, too, but I am still unsure about whether I want to get rid of them or keep them, since they are an integral part of the look of Berlin at the moment.
For the flag I used the tools that Photoshop provide, since I wanted to test out different alternatives.