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!






I’ve gotten two of these requests that I suspect were scams in the last week. The language they used is almost identical to what is written in the following article. The first one offered to pay travel to a location 2 hours from me and wanted 6 portraits after the event. Did not first ask for my availability for a certain day. Huh? Would a family reunion really revolve around the availability of an untried photographer? I said no to that one.  The second one sent an email from a completely different name, proposed the same thing (what is my availability, only 5 hours work, did I take credit cards, etc.). No mention of where he got my name. We communicated a little via text last night but I was about to eat dinner, so I called the number today. It was a Google Voice number but I could not understand anything being said as it sounded like it was in an underwater factory, and the person on the other end had such a thick foreign accent. He kept asking how I was doing–I got that part. Again, asked if I took credit cards. I said I could only take a cc through Paypal. He also provided me with an address where the event would take place. It is a 1 bedroom apartment! 40-50 people, portraits after, 5 hours of work (“only” 5 hours!). This is where I got suspicious (duh–finally) and Googled “scam seeking photographer for family reunion” and found this:

Dream Studio!

This first one especially–would love have something like this as a photo studio. Look at all that great natural light!

Photography Gear Masquerading as Everyday Tools: Save Money, Space, and Time

Frustrating, isn’t it? You’ve tried turning it lightly, firmly, squeezing it, swearing at it, invoking the Benevolent Photography Fairies* for help, all to no avail. That ?#&%*! filter is still stubbornly jammed on your lens for eternity, and no amount of forehead sweat is going to loosen it.

Calm down. There is help, and it’s closer than you think.

I’m sure the inexpensive filter wrenches from B&H work just fine, but they are specific to the size of the filter, so they are one-trick ponies. You’d better have the right size wrench in-house because you want that thing off NOW, don’t you? (Before you judge me for incorrectly screwing on a filter or buying the wrong one in the first place, I’m  not the only one who has had this happen or they wouldn’t make filter wrenches. So there.)

Enter…The Garage. No, really. Go into the garage.

You may not have an arsenal of mysteriously appearing This Old House implements like rubber strap wrenches hanging around collecting cobwebs, but for some reason I do. When and why I bought them (yeah, there’s two), who can say? But today…light bulb moment! I used the small one to loosen and remove the jammed UV filter that’s been living on my Canon 50mm 1.8 for the past five years. I wrapped it around the filter edge, adjusted it to fit, and Boom. It took two seconds and minimal effort to do what previous years of abject failure could not. Probably any decent length strip of rubber and a torquing stick would work. Check your junk drawer(s) or ask your favorite DIY neighbor.

IMG_7127The handle and locking mechanism did the trick. It’s all about leverage, baby, leverage. PVC pipes, pickle jars, lens filters–there are many jobs for this little guy. He needs to come and live with me in the big house in a place of honor: Le Junque Drawer.

What everyday items have you engaged or re-purposed as photography tools or accessories, either in a pinch or as a frugal stroke of genius? Please leave a comment and share. Do-it-yourselfers would love to know.

Happy defiltering.

*These are the same Fairies who get you to snap the shutter at exactly the right moment to capture that perfect shot. Clap your hands if you believe. Do not clap your hands if one of the fairies is between them.