Kitchen Magician

No trips to Home Depot for this small remodeling job. This is a job for Photoshop! I had to take that blinding reflection from  the mirror on the far wall in the dining room (not visible in the shot) off the freezer door. The mirror itself is reflecting the patio door in the living room which is on the other side of the kitchen wall (also not visible–duh). But how to wipe out the reflection but keep the texture and the shadow of the handle on the freezer door without a LOT of cloning? I SHOULD have put a black cloth over the mirror. But…you know. Here’s the Before…kitchenbefore

  1. Noticing the refrigerator and freezer handles and their reflections (shadows really) were very nearly mirror images of each other, I made a generous selection (I thought) of the lower door with the lasso tool that included the area around the handle and copied it onto its own layer (CMD+J Mac, CTRL+J Windows).
  2. I used the Move Tool (CMD+V / CTL+ V) to place this selection layer over the freezer door, lowering the opacity of the selection layer to 50% so I could see how it lined up. Next I enabled Free Transform (CMD+T / CTL+T), flipped the image vertically, resized and adjusted a bit to fit. Had to warp the right side a touch because (dang!) I didn’t make a big enough selection on that side.
  3. Added a (white) layer mask and painted away the excess with a black paintbrush at 100% opacity and flow. I prefer this to using the Eraser tool, because I’m a clod and sometimes erase too much. At least with a layer mask you can fix your oopsies.
  4. I brought some of the reflection back in for realism by painting white and using Blend If and also using a dodge preset I had previously purchased in a preset bundle from Phlearn.
  5. I could have taken out the glint between the two doors, but I thought since that was metal, it would look too flat, so I left it. Probably did a few other adjustments too, but I’m old and I’ve already forgotten all I did because I merge layers as I work so I don’t accidentally move something and screw it up.

Here is the result of reflection removal. Handle shadow is still there, slight reflection from mirror is still there (or there’d be no handle reflection, eh?), but much less distracting. And that’s when I saw them. You see them too, don’t you? Heart sink!


No, not a heart-shaped sink. MY HEART SUNK. Before I took any shots in the kitchen, I had the owner remove all the stuff hanging from the front of the refrigerator, the plastic bags stuffed between the refrigerator and wall, the dish towel off the door handle, the dog bowls from the floor. All the things an observant photographer is supposed to do, right? But as soon as I finished the reflection fix in post, I finally saw them. There they were, mocking me: the dreaded REFRIGERATOR MAGNETS! How had I missed them?! I had taken my first shot of the kitchen from the other direction but forgot to walk back and evaluate the room from the other angle. When I did set up to get this shot, I was overly concerned with trying to work around the ginormous slab of counter top that was photobombing my frame. You can see I clearly gave up on it. [Sigh] Maybe the magnets were messing with my brain.

But now it was time to go back to Lasso Tool & Copy Ranch, lil’ buckaroos! As I did with the front reflection, I copied clean sections of the side of the fridge and placed them on their own layers (as close as I could to the object so the color and luminosity were at least in the ballpark), first over the white clip magnet, then the bottle opener. Did a few more touchups on those pasted patches to get them to match: reducing brightness, adjusting levels, painting and using Blend If technique*, etc. When it came time to do the larger items, I lassoed a big ol’ chunk of the now kinda-clean side, pasted the copy and cleaned that up using various previously-mentioned methods.

The result…


*For more information and excellent instruction on how to do some of the methods I used, go to And don’t forget to look at the WHOLE room before you take your first shot!




How’s The Family These Days?

Are the old folks looking a little worse for wear? Are their smiles fading along with their puka shells and bell-bottoms? I really like doing family photo restorations. Instead of just helping a company sell more widgets (not that there’s anything wrong with that), I get to see how it impacts people to have precious mementos of loved ones restored. The challenge is good for the brain, and the result is good for the heart.

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Now this next one was a real challenge. Okay, they are all challenges, but this one was a REAL CHALLENGE!

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Check out more examples on my website on the “Everything Else” page–scroll down!

Thank you, New Orleans!

Had a great time in New Orleans last week. We didn’t get much time to spend in City Park before we had to head back home, but it is definitely on the Must Revisit list for next time, along with the WWII Museum and the Meals From The Heart Cafe  (Crab Cake Passion!). I had just the bare minimum photo equipment with me on this trip, but a little Photoshop magic made this image look more like it felt when we were there. (Sorry NOLA, but with no neutral density filter, I had to swap in an Illinois sky. Shhh–don’t tell.)

As shot…




The 24-Hour Rule


I posted the before/after shots of a photo restoration I did a few days ago, but then realized I had broken my own “24 hour” rule. The rule is to let it sit for 24 hours, and then come back to see if I need to do more (or went too far). I was so excited that I could do ANYTHING with that photo, as soon as I picked up the paper from Staples, I ran off a print for my neighbor and took it over to him. Then I came back and looked at it on screen. Really looked at it. Nope, not good enough. <Sigh> Over-enthusiasm made me miss these mistakes:

1. I over-sharpened it. I love a touch of high pass (don’t we all?), but I’d gone a little nuts with it with too many repeat layers. This made some areas of the skin shadows blobby with hard edges. I didn’t really see it on the first 5×7 print, but I sure saw it on the screen when I went back home. Ick.

2. I was timid when enhancing the details. The more I looked at the photo, the more I was able to determine the blobs of light and dark as hair, ear, etc. and paint back some detail. My neighbor assures me the corrected version still looks like his mother. The skin had picked up a weird texture too.

3. There was some sloppy cloning. I missed a double image from the realignment of the torn area. I also found I’d picked up a blob of schmutz with the clone stamp and repeated it! No excuses.

4. The composition was a little off. The subject was drifting to the upper right corner and didn’t look grounded. Why didn’t I crop it the first time? I was too timid to change the original photo too much. Why?! Just fix it! Who’s going to be mad about a few lost pixels of blurry foliage if the end product looks better?

I thought I’d done the best I could, but I hadn’t given it time to cook. I’m still learning to recognize when I’m being too conservative in some areas and when I’m going wild in others like a Bull-in-a-[Photo]shop. But the most important thing I have to remember is to force myself to take a break, 24 hours if possible, and then revisit whatever I’m doing with new eyes. I just can’t see what I’ve missed until after the dust settles in my brain. I have known this for years, and I still don’t always do it!

So, yeah, the 24 hours had indeed passed, but I hadn’t looked at the image again because I was in too much of a rush to print it off and deliver it. It’s still far from perfect, but now I’m going to leave it alone. It turns out tomorrow is his mom’s birthday, which he did not tell me until today. He’s decided to give her the new print framed as a present. I’m glad I could help, and really glad I caught my mistakes in time.