You made me laugh (+1 re-edit)

With a lot of masking, patching, blurring and a little desaturation -


In the backyard, a bluet defies my ID attempts, but it posed so nicely that I couldn’t resist. It’s hard to get these guys since they’re so slight and flitty.

Specific Feedback Requested:

Too much of the little stem it’s on? Should I crop more?

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

Is this a composite? - no

Probably handheld -

Lr processed for the crop and some color management (reduced the greens), black and white points and some texture. Topaz DeNoise. Photoshop to remove another bit of branch and an inverted mask selecting the damsel to bring the exposure in the background down a little for the repost.

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Very nice, Kris. You are right, they are very slight and flitty, so not always an easy subject. The stem works for me. It fits nicely out into the space for him to “move”. I like how it also has a branch going downwards too. For me, the BG seems a bit bright and distracting, but still a great image.

Beautiful image, Kristen. I love the stem as it is - I think it creates a nice diagonal element in the frame. I wish the leaf in the bottom left corner wasn’t there, but that’s not a big deal. Great shot!

I really like it as is! I love how he’s holding on to the little knob on the stem! They are so little and easily invisible, you got great details!

So difficult to capture decently. You got a great pose, but a bit of a tough bg. Still, nicely captured.

Thanks everyone. Yeah, the background was what it was. I prefer them over water, but this one just wouldn’t take direction!

Great catch on the damsel – I never seem to get the whole body in the focal plane.

No real nits here, but I’m always playing what if, so I wonder about a version with the stem in the LL removed and a dose of blur in the BG. Selecting the little beast and the twig could be a challenge, but I decided to try a trick that can often be used in a case like this: Go to Quick Mask Mode and paint a rough selection that extends out into the BG. Q key to make it a selection and go to Filter > Blur Gallery > Field Blur and see how much you can blur without making the original BG close to the object stand out too much. I overdid it here, then did a little cloning with a large low opacity brush. Also did more desaturation of the BG. The result here is not at all good but sometimes it can be a good technique so thought I’d toss it out…

PS – there’s not an embedded profile.

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Thanks Diane for sharing this technique. Looks like it has lots of possiblitiies.

So I spent a lot of time with this one, trying to work Diane’s magic and have posted another shot in the OP. It isn’t perfect since I missed something with the mask, but I think it’s a good effort and I learned a lot. Some things still elude me though and maybe a list of my steps will make it obvious for someone who is better with Photoshop -

  1. Ctrl-J duplicate layer

  2. Patch tool to remove vertical stem - clone stamp to smooth edges

  3. Select subject then Quick Mask to feather edge and protect subject

  4. Brush Opacity 66 - Flow 70

  5. Invert mask

  6. Field Blur to around 60 pixels

  7. CTRL/ALT/SFT-E to merge effects to one layer

  8. Select subject & expand edge around 10 pixels - Quick Mask - Invert

  9. Adjustment layer - lowered saturation & brightness

  10. Removed layer in step 5 - it looked weird and so I removed it and everything else stayed.

Try as I might I couldn’t use the same mask I made to blur the background to also desaturate the background. So that’s why I did the CTRL/ALT/SHFT-E to create a new layer from both. From there I could do another select and mask to desaturate the background. But it seems I didn’t need that consolidated layer in then end…and I don’t understand why. Clearly I need to understand this, but am a little baffled. It seems like I did something right, but don’t understand what or why. Oy vey. I feel so dumb.

Here’s a shot of my layer panel - those are two different masks created independently which I know probably isn’t necessary, but I couldn’t get it to copy.


Great effort, Kris. The results are definitely an improvement. Thanks so much for sharing your technique as I was very curious about how this might work. Nicely done.

On steps 3-4, don’t select anything – the quick mask is for making a selection – a loose feathered one. Q to enter QM mode. Leave the brush opacity at 100. Paint as needed then Q to convert the painted mask to a selection. Save the selection if you want to use it later.

Step 5, it’s the selection you’re inverting. A mask is just a way to visualize the selected area.

Step 6, I neglected to say, Field Blur lets you place several points with different blur amounts.

Step 8, just load the mask you saved, Q to see it, and tweak as needed. Q to go back to a selection. Or if the mask is still on a lower layer, you can Alt/Opt-drag it up to a different layer and invert as needed.

Lemme grab the ice pack and prop the aching foot back up and I’ll go back again for another look at more precise directions. Nothing better to do for the next 6-8 weeks!!!