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Removing Distractions to Highlight Your Subject

"The Guide" Featuring Kara Markley and James Sterling

Did you ever finish an image (or think an image was finished anyway) and it just didn't seem to sit right? You look at it and it's almost as if your eye can't decide where to go? Well, if you, the almighty creator, are having this issue, then odds are anyone looking at said image is going to suffer from this problem as well. One of the most important things you can do to an image is to "tidy up." Aka attack your image with the patch tool, clone stamp, and whatever means necessary to get rid of anything that might beckon the attention away from your subject.  

According to science (... or something), when viewing an image your eye is naturally drawn to the brightest area. ("I like this image and the way it OOOoo something shiny!") Well, partway through editing this image it became apparent that there were some very shiny areas where I did not want them. I shot my subjects in the shade so I would have nice even lighting, but it happened to be a fairly sunny day. I found a lovely patch of shade, but the pesky sun left some shining splashes of light in the foreground as well as the background. 

Obviously I wanted you all to look at my subjects, but I had these almost blown out spots pulling needily at your attention while the people almost melded into the background. It didn't help that their outfits match the surrounding colors extremely well either. So, I used all of my powers to rid the image of all the unwanted distractions, and focus your attention back onto my fantastical models.

The bottom left corner of the image was fairly easy. I just employed the patch tool to steal some darker areas from elsewhere in the image and then cleaned the edges of the "patches" with the clone stamp tool. The bottom right corner, on the other hand, was just not "patch-tooling" very well. It was too large and bright of an area - every time I tried it the patches looked super fake and weird. I ended up using the pen tool to cut out a chunk of the background and create a big rock to cover the sun-splotch.

I continued around the image, removing more of the brightest spots and little distractions, but my subjects where still getting lost in the sea of neutral greens and browns. That's when I added in the beams of light behind and around them. I took advantage of the fact that our eyeballs are like moths to the flame and drastically lightened the area where I wanted your eyeballs to land. Having the bright light behind them also gave them some nice separation from the background. Hooray!

This really was SUCH a fun shoot. I took this image at the 2016 Watkins Glen Flicker Gathering (the second of two such events that I've hosted), and I couldn't have asked for better models .... Well I could have asked, but the answer would have been, "No, sorry these two are superior to all other choices, thanks bye." The strapping blond gentleman happens to be my best friend/cousin James, and the lovely lady is his soon to be wife, Kara! Both of whom are incredibly talented in more ways than I have fingers to count. You can read more about how amazing they are here or here

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