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How To Clean Up Your Panoramic Photos Part 3: Healing Brush

Chances are, you’ll end up with a few unwanted objects in your panoramic photo. Perhaps it’s a power line that’s sagging in the frame. Or it’s an unwanted tourist walking through the shot. Fortunately, Photoshop offers a suite of tools for removing objects and hiding blemishes. In this second part we look at the Healing Brush tool.

The Healing Brush is designed to correct imperfections in a photo. Similar in handling to the Clone Stamp tool, it successfully hides blemishes by taking cloned pixels and matching the texture, lighting, and shading of the sampled to the original pixels. This can generally produce results in which the repaired pixels blend seamlessly together.

While the Healing Brush takes a short while to process and blend, the results are usually seamless.

You can use all of the Clone Stamp tool shortcuts with The Healing Brush tool. Be sure to specify the tool alignment in the Options bar. If Aligned is selected, the sample point and painting point move parallel as you brush. If you click again and start over, the sample point picks up relative to the current brush position. If Aligned is deselected, the initial sample point is re-used. The second method ensures that you are always sampling from the same area but the first produces more visual variety if using a large textured area.

Here are a few tips to get better performance:

  • Because the sampled pixels are drawn from before you click, it may be necessary to release and start over occasionally to avoid sampling the problem area.
  • Release the mouse to merge the sampled pixels. The stroke will most-likely look strange until then.
  • To get better results on an area with strong contrast, make a selection before using the Healing Brush Tool. The selection should be bigger than the area to be healed and should follow the boundary of high contrast pixels. This way, when painting with the Healing Brush, the selection will prevent color bleed-in from outside areas.
  • You can clone from all visible layers by specifying Use All Layers. This is useful if you want to clone to an empty layer at the top of your document while sampling from the layers below.

This post is adapted from the book Motion Graphics with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Studio Techniques. If you want to learn how to mix panoramic photos with video (and much more) check out the book.

Stabilizing Handheld Panoramic Shots

When it comes to panoramic photography, a tripod is your friend.  A stable platform, precise measurement for rotation, and a bubble level.  Of course there’ll be times when you’ve left it in the car or aren’t even allowed to use it on a shoot.  That’s okay, a little bit of body work can go a long way.

Handheld Techniques

If you have to shoot your panoramic images without a tripod, you’ll need to adjust your handheld shooting technique.

Try wrapping the camera strap around your elbow.  This allows you to place tension on the strap so it is taut. The tension is a useful way to constrain the camera movement and make it more an extension of your body.

  1. Hold the camera in front of your body so its strap hangs downward.
  2. Slip your arm through the strap so it goes just past your elbow.
  3. Wrap your hand around the outside edge of the strap and grab the camera body.
  4. Press your elbow into the strap to increase tension on the strap and stabilize the camera.

An alternative approach is to twist the strap once and wrap it around your shoulder blade.

Creating the Pan

To pan the camera smoothly, you’ll need to properly position your body.

  1. Square your body up with your subject.
  2. Spread your feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Rotate at the waist and twist body while keeping your shoulders and camera in close to your body.

This post sponsored by Adorama – More than a camera store