"Fill your selection, Ned Pepper..."

Yeah, the title is lame, but I couldn't come up with anything better than Rooster Cogburn... Last week, I used Content Aware Fill to clean up some telephone lines in an entry primarily about the impact HDR Toning can have on a flat image.  Today, I want to show a few more examples of this new feature in Photoshop CS5.  You can save loads of time in post-processing with this new tool and more easily edit things that would be extremely difficult without it.

Let's start with something simple. The other night, we were at a nice vineyard, the Oak Barrel Winery, shooting in early evening light.  Sunset was still about an hour off.  I really liked the shadows from the vines and thought the workers added some interest to the image.  That golf cart, however, was ruining my shot.  This kind of work was no big deal with the last version of Photoshop.  Using a mixture of the Clone Stamp and some Healing Brush, I've removed this type of obstacle many times.  It probably wouldn't take me more than five minutes.  With the new Content Aware Fill, it might have taken me two.  You simply put a selection around the offending object and hit Shift-Backspace.  A dialogue box will appear, and you select the content aware option.  The program will sample the surrounding area and fill in the selection with similar pixels.  It doesn't always work perfectly; you may need to do some touch up.  Here is my photo with the golf cart gone.  Ahhh, much better!


In this second image, I have a much bigger obstacles to get rid of.  There is the tree top creeping in from the bottom of the frame and a shed in the field.  I took care of it quickly, but still wasn't happy.

The horse was too far from the house, and I wanted another one out there.  There was another horse out there when I pulled up, but I guess it was camera-shy and ran off.  I cropped in tighter and dropped in another horse, while repositioning the original horse.  I added a little Vibrance in Lightroom.  Yeah, I know, I did more than Content Aware Fill, but it needed to be done.

My last example is a much more challenging job.  It began innocently enough: I got up early after a couple days of rain to shoot the mushrooms that always show up.  They're only there for the day because the hot sun shrivels them in a few hours.  I grabbed the macro and began low-crawling through the grass, just like they taught me in the Army.  I snuck up on the 'shrooms and clicked away.

The most interesting part of the mushroom is the gills under the cap, so I tried to bend it over gently to get that shot.  Ooops, I was in my Grunt mode and broke the stem.  I took this shot, but, obviously, this is useless.

I decided this would be a good test for Content Aware Fill.  Could I remove the stem and still keep the gills looking "real"?  You can see the results below.  I don't think I could have done this with just the old Clone Stamp.  Again, I selected the stem, but the first pass didn't create the final image.  I needed to select different parts in a triangular pattern, towards the center.  It took several selections to get this result.  I'm not sure that this image has any value, other than allowing me a good practice session, but that was good enough for me.  I did a retrograde operation, back to headquarters and processed the images.  Hooah!

Why all the Army talk?  Well, today is the US Army's birthday.  Happy Birthday to all soldiers, past and present.  I'm proud I was one of you.