Thursday, April 24, 2014

Photoshop Elements: Selective Clone Stamp

Editing Tips

We probably all use the clone stamp tool a lot more than we would like to.  Sometimes it is unavoidable.  There are things that you don’t want in your shot that will be there no matter what you do.  Power lines are a landscape photographer’s worst enemy.  Other times, you focus so much on your subject that you don’t notice small things in the background until you are looking at the images on your computer screen.  What I’d like to discuss today is a little trick to use while clone stamping to help ensure that the clone doesn’t bleed into parts of your photo and ruin other parts of the image.

Below is a shot of the Photoshop Elements screen.  The clone stamp tool is along the left hand side, circled in red.  Also circled in red (at the bottom) are other important factors to help you…the size and opacity of your stamp.  I’ll assume that most people know how to use the stamp so I won’t go into too much detail on the mechanics of using it.


The tricky part of clone stamping is when you have a border or other object near the area you are cloning, but want to keep intact.  Below is a photo I took of a woman in an outdoor area where there were a lot of people around.  I did my best to keep extra people out of the shot, but what I didn’t notice until later about this photo was the shopper inside the store in the background.  It was kind of distracting to me and I wanted to remove him from the shot. 


Trying to clone around that much detail is tricky and doing a normal clone job would compromise the nice straight line on the white door to the right of the shopper.  The trick is to select the area that is OK to clone.  By doing this, the clone tool will not clone over anything outside of the area selected. 

I just selected the door frame using the magic want select tool.


Now I can go back to the clone stamp tool (with the window still selected) and it will only clone objects that are inside of the selected area.  This way I can keep the border of the door nice and clean.  And here is the result.


Note: You can do all kinds of other editing using this selective edit trick.  First just select the area that you would like to be affected.  All other parts of the photo will remain untouched.  This works with brightness/color edits, all kinds of brush tool edits, etc.

Next week we’ll discuss some other useful editing tricks in Photoshop Elements that might make your life a little easier.

Do you have any success or horror stories?  Feel free to post your comments and questions to this post and I’ll be happy to discuss them.  Happy shooting!


Bryan Rasmussen owns Chiseled Light Photography and is also a freelance photographer for a local newspaper.  Follow him at www.facebook.com/ChiseledLight.  He is also on Instagram, Flickr, and Fine Art America.

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