Background Clean-Up

squidfish

Feeder Fish
Original poster
It does not seem to matter how good your filtration system is or how well you clean the glass, spots and speckles produced by particles and small bubbles in the water often appear on a fish photograph. I bet there are not many of you who use photo editing software to clean-up their images who have not applied the clone / healing brush. I am using Photoshop for this example but I am sure it could easily be applied to most editing software.

The method may not work for every picture and will have its limitations but could be a technique that might be worth trying on occasions The main constraint of the method is that it is going to cause some background blur but that’s not always a bad thing. Keep an eye out for how the background is reacting to the noise filter.

Here’s the start image…taken just after a water change. A messy shot with lots of particles in the water.





1) First step is to create a duplicate layer of the background. Make sure the duplicate layer is selected.

2) Go to Filter >>> Noise >>>>>Dust and Sctratches

3) Apply the filter, having adjusted the sliders to produce the desired effect taking note of how the background is reacting. Occasionally some touching up with the clone brush may be required after filter application.


You will notice that you image is not looking too sharp at this point!!! Don't panic

4) With the duplicate layer still selected, take the eraser and go over the areas you want to remove the filter from. This may be just the fish, as for this shot, but in other pictures you may also want to bring elements of the foreground such as a stone or rock back into focus.



Nearly there...time to reduce the brush size for the edges.

5) You have now finished with the eraser. Obviously for some fish such as those with finely divided fins (Crowntail bettas spring to mind) this erasing process could take a long time. Now it time to flatten the two layers into one image.



You may wish to undertake any final touch-ups with a clone brush. Looking at this shot I would probably now go back and clone out the red area around the tail but at least this photo series shows the technique.

6) A final sharpen and exif stamp script[/color]



By the way I still do not now for sure what species this is...lol

Cheers

Rich
 
Last edited by a moderator:

hir0

Moderator
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Oct 16, 2004
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Hi Rich, great tutorial - and I'm sure many people will find it useful. Thanks for taking the time to show us this technique. Perhaps this should find it's way into the articles section.
 

paradise

Plecostomus
MFK Member
Jan 5, 2005
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yep! hiro, we have discussed it and with some comments and adjustments this will make it. Rich I will change the color back to normal, it's hard to see.
 

phishphorphun

Jack Dempsey
MFK Member
Jan 18, 2005
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Thanks Rich for doing another great tutorial for us. I was anxious to see how this went and am going to give it a try. In the past I have just used the Blur tool to get rid of some of the small stuff.

And BTW, I'm still confused about the id of that guy too. My oto lithos had yellow before blues. This guy has whites where the yellows are and the blues are coming in early. He's looking good though.
 

Ibn

Feeder Fish
Dec 8, 2004
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Thanks for showing us this technique, Rich. It mirrors Jay's technique for blurring the background. Might want to flatten out both layers afterwards (although if you don't, it really won't matter after saving to JPEG; it will matter if you wish to save the layers and the file as a PSD).

Might also want to consider masking the fish to get a cleaner look.
 

Burgoid

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
May 13, 2005
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i only got PS the other day so im still playing around and learning this tool seems like it will be very helpfull. Ibn i was wondering how you mask the fish
Cheers Dave
 

Ibn

Feeder Fish
Dec 8, 2004
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Dave, you can do so by creating a duplicate layer. On a clean picture like that you can pretty easily highlight the fish since there's a clean separation between the subject from the background.
 

Ibn

Feeder Fish
Dec 8, 2004
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San Jose, CA
Any of the highlighting tools will work (lasso, polygonal lasso, magic lasso, or the magic wand). Zoom in on the picture which will allow you to really see the details and the borders.
 
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