Thursday, January 29, 2009

Removing Powerlines in Photoshop



When shooting architecture, the retouching of power lines and telephone poles can be quite a challenge. I had a client ask me to shoot a bunch of projects a few months ago. They wanted a lot of locations shot in a little time so we did not scout or select the perfect time to shoot for each building, rather we shot what was there when we were there. This is typical in today's economy...just shoot it! The lighting was not that great on the building and the time of year played a roll where the sun hits the front in the summer but not late fall.

I shot this building along with the others and delivered the to the client expecting an email later requesting the Photoshop work be done after they selected. Much to my surprise they did not want any post processing. That is until they realized months later that they could not use the pictures as they were and particularly this image. Here is how I did it.

The problem was obvious; the building had power lines everywhere and one old telephone pole and they had to be retouched out. As with any assignment, I brainstorm while setting up to do the shot, the Photoshop work that will be required. When you are cloning or replacing the power lines you need something to replace them with. The telephone pole was the problem; when I removed it what would I replace it with? The first thing I did was shoot the main exposure and once secured, I moved the camera left 10' and shot again. This provided the ends of the windows and brick that was behind the telephone pole.

When I opened the image in Photoshop, I then started on the sky and used the Spot Healing Brush, Clone Stamp, and the Patch Tool to clean up the sky first. Each of these tools works well for some things but each does not work great for everything. When you are close to edges, the Spot Healing Brush is no good and the Patch Tool does not work that great either. I then move to the Clone Stamp.

When I got to the siding to remove the power lines along the walls, I used the Clone Stamp when I had room to work with it. In several areas on the buildings side, none of those tools worked so I actually copied sections of siding and laid them over the section of power lines. This worked well. But you have to copy right next to the power lines if you can because any further away the perspective of the siding changes and will not lay into place well.

All in all it took about 2 hours to do and the client was thrilled. And to think how did we ever get along with out Photoshop.


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