The Art Of Elimination

4) Frame cropped to rectangular shape

Healing: Use the Healing Brush tool as you would the Clone Stamp tool. Or, use the Spot Healing brush, which will automatically select the information sampled for you and can be used within a selection to contain the results. Or, finally, use the Patch tool, which will copy information selected with it from or to (depending on whether you check Source or Destination) wherever you drag it to. Healing can’t be done on a transparent layer, so work on a copy of the layer you’d like to retouch. Click on the layer and select Duplicate Layer from the Layer menu or palette. If you need to heal image material contained on multiple layers, create a new composite layer by holding the Option/Alt key and select Merge Visible from the Layer palette.

Copying And Pasting: Just select a region of an image with any selection tool. Copy it (Edit > Copy). Paste it (Edit > Paste). Then move the resulting layer into play and mask as needed. (Click the mask icon at the bottom of the Layer palette and use a black brush at varying opacities to hide the information.)

Filling: Select a region. Fill using the Content Aware tool. Fill and select Content Aware from the drop-down menu in the dialog (this feature was introduced with Photoshop CS5). Photoshop will automatically create an appropriate random texture in the selected area. Like healing, this feature won’t work on transparent layers/areas so, again, use it on a new merged layer.

Final) Gaps filled in

Software routines such as lens correction and panoramic stitching may distort the frame, subtly, but sometimes significantly, distorting a composition and requiring additional measures to restore a rectangular frame. When solving this challenge, you may get better results if you don’t contract the frame as aggressively as you once did and retouch rather than crop to fill in the gap and/or eliminate distracting elements.

Your choice of practices or their application may or may not change the nature of the artifact that you finally create. And, whether the means you choose is appropriate for your objective, the practices you adopt may or may not be accepted by the community of artists you choose to work within—some are more permissive than others. Nevertheless, you should explore your options. You simply won’t know whether it’s for you until you try it for yourself.

Learning to think within the frame is an essential skill for creating strong photographic compositions. But today, learning to think within the frame is only the beginning. You can learn to think outside the frame as well. It’s a new mind-set. Once it becomes second nature, you’ll not only find you have more options for visual problem-solving, but you’ll also find your visual horizons will have expanded—significantly.

Learn to see in new ways. Combine them with old ways. You’ll find yourself making images that you once passed by, leaving them unmade or even unnoticed. As a result, you’ll make many more successful images.

John Paul Caponigro, author of Adobe Photoshop Master Class and the DVD series R/Evolution, is an internationally renowned fine artist, an authority on digital printing, and a respected lecturer and workshop leader. Get over 200 Lessons and his enews Insights free at,

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