#CreativeFriday – Solving Tricky Clone and Heal problems with Lightroom

Lightroom 5.0 introduced the new advanced clone and heal tool, this tool allows the creation of a shape to be cloned / healed instead of the regular circle that was available in previous versions. Lightroom 5.2 introduced the feather control on the clone / healing tool. These two features are great additions to the product, and will certainly help when it comes to removing some unwanted items from a scene.

In this post, I wanted to show you an image that I used it on recently and I think it shows how powerful these additions really are.

I took this image at the Maha Kumbh Mela last year

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This is a shot that when I saw it happen, really caught my eye. So I took a grab shot, checking the corners of the frame and the contents, but still hoping for the best. However, in-between checking the scene, one chap put his hand up and it appears out of the red turban (at least it’s not a pipe or a tree as per usual ;-). Even though the Kumbh is a little scruffy I still would like to show the best image possible, so ideally, I don’t want this item in the frame, as it’s very distracting. I also have a lot of images to work on from this shoot, so I need to use my time efficiently to get all of the edits done quickly before I head over to Photoshop CC for finishing. Working in Lightroom certainly helps me with this, and thanks to the addition of the advanced healing brush with feathering will allow me to use my time in a better way.

The first thing we need to do is to break down the scene and work out how Lightroom 5 can remove this item from the scene, my thoughts so far are :-

  • I will need to use the clone tool as it needs to be a direct replacement, not a heal.
  • There is plenty of sky with the same colour and tone to replace the hand.
  • Red’s are tricky as they can bleed colour, especially with a blue sky behind it.
  • I will have to make multiple clone and heals in order to remove the object cleanly without affecting the red turban.
  • I will need to use precision and care so will need to zoom in heavily into the scene.

To make a clean removal and not affect the red turban, a hard edged clone of where the arm intersects the turbo will be needed. To do this, i’ll zoom into the maximum 11:1, as this will give me more control in this tricky selection. Click on the zoom ratio layer (just under the zoom level pop up box) and i’ll going to select the 11:1 to get as far into the image as Lightroom will allow (marked Red). If the image does not zoom into the right place, then use the white location controller (marked Yellow) in the Navigator window to move the main image around.

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Once the right location has been found, the clone/heal tool needs to be configured. For this replacement i’ll need to have a very hard edge, so i’ve just turned the feather on the tool down to zero (marked by the white box).

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The clone/heal tool is then used to make a clean seperation between the two items. The source is then moved to a location that could be a candidate for the replacement (you may need to locate and test different areas to get the right match (also, don’t forget that opacity can help blend the area in)).

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Next the clone/heal tool is used to replace the arm/hand by using the same approach, this time the feather will need to be altered to make sure that the replacement blends in with the sky, but not too much that runs into the turban. In this case there are 2 clone/heals needed to remove the arm. You could acheive the replacement with just 1 clone/heal, but, because the total area to replace is not visible at any one time at this zoom level and the precision is required to not go into the turban and stay within the first cloned/heal area, then I think it’s best to use 2 operations to remove the arm and hand.

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Turning on the visualisation spots, you can see it’s a clean heal.

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You can see the final result and the difference it makes to the photograph.

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