Back Modifications (2)
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Spring is Here

By WeeGeordieLass    
I lay on the ground to get this shot - getting some very funny looks from passers-by. My idea was to show the red tulips against the blue sky. I loved the lighting on the flowers.

I've cloned out a lamp post and an unopened bud which I thought spoilt the composition and balance of the shot.

I don't think I did a very good job with the cloning and I'd be grateful to know of any better methods of maintaining the integrity of the sky after cloning.

I've uploaded the original as a mod.

I'd appreciate any suggestions to how I could improve this shot.

Tags: Flowers and plants

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


ams99 Junior Member 7 65 9 England
4 Apr 2012 8:58PM
Those colours are wonderful.

I'd also be interested in the cloning tips which are offered as i have just destroyed my blue sky around the Houses of Parliament

Great colours and composition. Well done

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mhfore 11 6 176 England
4 Apr 2012 9:24PM
Hey up Elaine how are you,

One way to use the clone tool is to first make a selection of the image that you don't want to touch. This can be done by selecting the area you want to work in or by selecting the area you don't want to touch and then go to "select" > "inverse" , choose which ever way is easier to make your selection. Then select your clone tool and click on an area that is very similar to what you want to apply, I normally choose an area that's next to what I want to clone out but is also similar to what I want it to look like when i've finished i.e just to the left or right, top or bottom of the bit I want to clone out, phew, does that make sense ? Wink . Then following the edge of your selection (marching ants) use the clone like a brush, you will see a cross to the side of your clone tool and this is what it is applying to the image. So if your cloning in part of a sky and the cross goes into or near a tree it will clone the tree in so you will have to keep readjusting.

Elaine, I'm still not sure this makes or Frank, my head hurts.

L & K's Elaine

4 Apr 2012 10:08PM
Hi Alan,

Thanks for your kind comments. It was the colours and the lighting that I hoped to portray when I took the shot - hopefully it was worth rolling around on the floor for!!

I find cloning quite difficult, I think practice and trial and error is what's required to master it.


Jestertheclown 9 7.7k 252 England
4 Apr 2012 10:17PM

Quote:So if your cloning in part of a sky and the cross goes into or near a tree it will clone the tree in so you will have to keep readjusting.

Hi Martin,
This is true unless you uncheck the box marked "aligned" in the top tool bar in which case the cross disappears, meaning that you can place or paint (I try not to) your selection anywhere and as many times as you like.
Also, I've had to think about why you select a part that you don't want to touch?
Apart from that, yep! You're making perfect sense!
Eventually Elaine, it's all down to practice.
Hope this helps.

4 Apr 2012 10:17PM
Hi Martin,

I'm good thanks - hope you are too.

Thanks I can follow what you are saying. I think the mistake I made was that I didn't make a selection of the area I didn't want to touch, and it went downhill from then on. I'm going to have another go whilst following your advice.

I mucked up the sky and when it's viewed at normal size you can see the different hues in the blue colour.

I think I just have to keep practicing.

Thanks for your help again - it's much appreciated.


4 Apr 2012 10:20PM
Hi Bren,

Thanks for letting me know about the "aligned" check box.

I'll have a look for that.............and practice, practice and practice.

Thanks and Cheers

Jestertheclown 9 7.7k 252 England
4 Apr 2012 10:24PM
Just a thought Elaine,
I don't know what software you're using but I've found that clone tools vary from one editor to another. CS2, for example, was easier and more accurate that CS5 in my opinion.
What I'm getting at is this; it will pay you to master the clone tool in the software that you're using/happiest with/decide to keep on using but it's always worth looking elsewhere and at least trying some others. You may find, at some point, you encounter something that might be more use for a specific task than your usual one.
4 Apr 2012 10:33PM
Hi Bren,

I've got Elements 10 and I struggle with cloning. I'm ok with areas that have foliage etc. but when I'm faced with a sky (just one plain colour) like in this image, I always botch it up.

I think that's a great idea to look around and try other software.

I also wondered if there would be other techniques I could have used like replacing the sky etc.

Need to keep youtubing and reading my manuals.


Jestertheclown 9 7.7k 252 England
4 Apr 2012 11:00PM
I know what you mean Elaine.
Things like foliage, grass, even brickwork (if you're careful) are relatively easy because there are so many edges and variations in colour that you can get away with leaving the joins relatively unfinished.
Any area of plain colour however, will always be more tricky because, however plain it might look at first glance, you can be sure that there will be some variation from one end to the other and matching that can be hard.
I find the best way, and it still doesn't give perfect results, is to use as large a brush as you can get away with, with the softest edge and move as large an area as you can each time. You can then use smaller brushes, of varying softness to touch up around edges. It can be a thankless task and short of changing the entire sky, I don't think that there is an easy fix.
Looking at your original shot, I think that the 'content aware' tool, which, unfortunately, you don't have would have been a big help.
Paul_CA 10 16 4 France
5 Apr 2012 12:16AM
Plain areas are always a bugger to clone and frequently you end up with blotches of lighter or darker colour. A couple of ways round this that I've found useful. If you have a darker area such as you have here then clone a lighter area of sky and set the transparency of the clone brush down to 30% or so and carefully paint over the blotchy area - in this way you can gradually build up the colour so that it's a closer match. Vice versa for lighter blotches. Get the clone brush as close as possible to the area you're cloning out - in a sky that's generally left or right of the object you're cloning out as the tones should be pretty close. Second option after you've got the tones as close as possible is to make a selection of the sky and apply a hefty gaussian blur to it - on a clear sky that's relatively simple and often quite effective as the edges of the blotch are nicely diffused and in a clear blue sky nothing needs to be sharp anyhow. Third option of course is to clone something in to the blotched area and hide it - a bud or lampost maybe Grin Oh, the fourth option is a bit of discrete gardening - push the offending bud out of the way or pick it if nobody's watching - obviously not an option with the lampost.
Nice shot though and the complimentary colours really make the image pop. A nice low angle to add backlighting to those blooms.
mhfore 11 6 176 England
5 Apr 2012 7:37AM
Good morning Elaine & Bren,

The reason you make a selection is because all your clone will be contained in that area so if you select the area you don't what to touch and then inverse it gives you a selected area. Your right, you could just make a selection and work in that area but I find that sometimes when making tricky selections it's easier to go the otherway and inverse you can also expand by a pixel that way making sure your staying away from certain areas. Grin

Take care

mhfore 11 6 176 England
5 Apr 2012 7:41AM
Sorry Elaine I forgot to add that i've posted a mod using the inverse way but I have left certain areas between the leaves unselected to show you that the clone even though it as gone over the line it as not been applied to that area.

Sooty_1 8 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
5 Apr 2012 8:56AM
It just goes to show that "plain" areas are not so plain after all!

Reducing the opacity of the brush, and reducing the hardness of the edge will help, and if you are doing a large area and find you have left a mark, another thing you can do is use a large clone brush (like..really large) and brush around the edges at low opacity, which will blend more smoothly with the surrounding area.

BTW: Something I think would improve this, is to get lower and move the foreground leaves, to leave the flower heads fully against the sky - this will cut the ground out completely. Not sure if your camera has live view - if not, you might have to guess composition, but at least you can review it immediately.

Jestertheclown 9 7.7k 252 England
5 Apr 2012 10:54AM
Thanks Martin,
I'd figured that was the reason that you'd make a selection.
In years of doing this, I've never heard of it and always just been careful but it does make sense!
5 Apr 2012 6:56PM
Hi Bren,

Thanks for your advice of the size and hardness of the brushes to use.

I'll experiment with different ones.

5 Apr 2012 7:03PM
Hi Paul,

Yes as you described I was getting blotchy bits of sky and no matter how I tried I couldn't get it looking ok - it was doing me head in!

Thanks for the great tips - some here I don't think I'd ever have thought of i.e. using the gaussian blur filter, and cloning something else in to hide the botched up area of sky.

I love the discreet gardening tip - obviously one activity to be used with subterfuge!!! lol

Thanks for your kind comments on the shot, and for the time you've taken to share your knowledge and help me.


5 Apr 2012 7:06PM
Hi Martin,

I think your tip about selecting inverse is very helpful.

You've explained it well and the mod showing how it works is great - helps me to understand.

Thanks again for all your help.


5 Apr 2012 7:09PM
Hi Nick,

That's a great tip about the edges and blending.............I'd tried but had made a right pigs ear of it.

Thanks for pointing me in the right direction re: the opacity and hardness of the edges.

Now I have some idea of where to start.

Thanks for the tip re: the composition - I'll bear that in mind next time I'm faced with a scene like this,



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