If you’ve clicked on this post thinking “I’m not sure I really need to know how to remove objects in my photos” then I’m here to tell you…you do need to know. As a photographer there will be several times when something small is truly irritating you in your image (a pole in an otherwise perfect background to your subject), or when you can’t control the background at all (oh hey bright orange ropes to outline the beach dunes we can’t cross). Although I am not a huge proponent of changing the original image you took (what can I say…I’m a naturalist) there are definitely times when removing something small can make a big difference. In this post I will show you how to easily remove objects in Photoshop—without having to really learn how to use Photoshop.
Removing Objects in Photoshop Using Content-Aware Fill
This senior session was great and we found this quite little section right where you walk onto the beach. The back-lighting was stunning, her dress matched perfectly, and everything was great except for that sign, the truck, and that corner of the boardwalk peeking out from the ground. There are a couple of things I could have done—I could have crouched down lower to frame out that truck, walked closer to frame out the boardwalk—and so I tried those things but didn’t like how the overall composition looked. Instead I chose to continue this shot knowing those things could easily be removed in photoshop. So here I show you how I selected the unwanted objects—the sign, truck, and boardwalk—and then just remove them using content aware fill in Photoshop. I did this in Photoshop but I promise you can do this with very little photoshop experience. There are ways to do this in Lightroom and although LR is fast becoming a one-stop shop for editing (and they have even changed their fill options and gotten so much better), Photoshop is still my choice for removing larger objects. So here’s my quickest tutorial on how to use content aware fill.
- 1. open file into photoshop (FILE>OPEN)
- 2. select the lasso tool from the toolbar (just press “L” on your keyboard)
- 3. draw a rough circle around the area you want to remove (notice the marching ants in photo 2 below)
- 4. selects EDIT>FILL>choose “content aware” in the drop down menu
- 5. Select “OK” and click COMMAND “D” to deselect the marching ants selection
- 6. FILE>SAVE to save the new version (rename if you don’t want to overwrite original)
Before and After Object Removal
This gorgeous beach session was perfect…perfect except for the awful orange ropes in the background. This beach is actively protecting the dunes and the ropes are there so we don’t accidentally cause more erosion on the dunes by crossing over—which I support and understand—but the orange is terrible and even as much as I could blur out the background, the ropes showed in every image where we were facing the dunes. Thankfully I knew this wouldn’t totally ruin our photoshoot and instead I could take the ropes out. Whew…thank goodness! So knowing how to quickly change something allows you more creative freedom while you are photographing. I could have moved us to a different location, but everywhere with this view had those ropes, so if I didn’t think I could get rid of them it would have limited my creativity while photographing this lovely family session. Know you camera, know your gear, and know your editing capabilities. Hopefully next time you go out you can compose your image with the confidence of being able to improve upon it in post-production if necessary.
In conclusion, using the content-aware fill tool in Photoshop is an easy and effective way to remove objects from an image. With this powerful tool, you have the ability to remove unwanted elements in a few quick clicks and not have to worry about distortions in the original image. It’s an invaluable tool to have in your arsenal, especially when you need to clean up and perfect a photo fast. So, go ahead and explore the possibilities of this tool and unlock its hidden potential. Who knows, you may just be surprised by the results you get. So, what are you waiting for? Get started removing objects and make your images look their best!