Mark Harris

Editing your snaps
Mark Harris walks you through two easy photo edits - getting your photos to look just as you want is easier than you might think

Disappearing act
Dust and scratches - or simply an outbreak of acne - can spoil an otherwise perfect photo. Here’s a quick way to clean up your snaps in Photoshop Elements.

Digital air-brushing
You’ve probably heard about ‘air-brushing’ photos to eliminate blemishes, and Photoshop Elements makes this easy. Start by opening an image with unsightly spots or specks – anything from skin to sky to a cathedral wall. In the Photoshop Elements main window, there’s a toolbar of icons on the left hand side. The Lasso tool looks like a rope and is used for circling an area. Click on it, then select the normal Lasso shape from the toolbar above the picture.


Quick on the draw
Now position the cursor near the spots and hold down the mouse button. Without letting go, draw roughly around the spots. It doesn’t have to be a neat line, but try not to stray into areas that don’t need fixing. When you release the button, the line flashes to show the area selected. If it’s not right, don’t worry: just hit the Escape key (top left of your keyboard) and start again. Now go to the Filter menu at the top and choose Noise, then Dust & Scratches.


Clean sweep
In the new window, drag the Radius slider slowly upwards from 0, until the specks disappear from the preview window. This smoothes out any parts of the selected area that differ their neighbours. A Radius of 5 to 8 pixels is usually fine for small specks, and 10 to 15 for larger dots. To finish, drag the Threshold slider until your selected area matches the rest of the image. This evens out texture in the final photo.


Clean up backgrounds
Did you really want that tree sprouting out of your friend’s head? Use Photoshop Element’s Clone tool to fix problem photos in instants.

Take a target
Photoshop Elements has a clever feature that can copy background detail like sky or sand to erase unwanted items such as trees or the sunbather in this photo. In the Full Edit screen, choose the Clone Stamp tool from the left side menu – it looks like a little rubber stamp. Holding down the Alt key, the cursor now changes into a target shape to let you choose a blank bit of background to copy. Position this target over a clear area and click once.


Choose a brush
In the top bar, the black caterpillar shape shows the type of brush selected. Click on the pull-down tab next to it and choose a medium-sized brush (maybe 27 pixels), with soft edges for an even, natural effect. The cursor turns into a circle showing the brush size, so pick one to suit the object you want to erase. If you need to change it, simply type a larger or smaller number in the box next to it.



Clone arranger
Now click and drag over the unwanted object. It should disappear as it’s gradually replaced by background detail from the target point you selected a moment ago. The Clone tool smoothes edges intelligently, but it isn’t perfect. If your cloned area may look strange, choose Undo from the Edit menu and try again, choosing a new target point in step 1. To erase large items, you’ll probably need to do the whole process several times.



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