Exercise 23: Alteration

The final exercise for this part of the course is deliberate alteration of the image. Such complex alterations are not possible in Lightroom hence; I would be using the Photoshop for this purpose. Depending on my skills and imaginations, I am allowed to be creative. However, to simplify the concept of the exercise, I am asked to remove significant element of an image.

I am supposed to chose a picture and replace part of it. For the replacement, I am required to clone an element from the background. Ensuring that the alteration looks as natural as possible and the viewer should not be able to tell that the picture has been retouched.

I have chosen a portrait of two kids. I plan to do the following alteration in the photograph.

  • Remove people from the background
  • Add catch light to the little boys eyes to make them even livelier
  • Dodge and burn the image to divert the eye to the subject at the same time reduce the flat felling of the picture


To attempt the above said alteration, I have performed following steps in Photoshop. (I am recording only the main steps here, and skipping the details like how to add the layer or layer mask etc.)

Cloning the background:

  1. I opened the RAW file in Photoshop as an object. I normally do this, so that making certain changes to the original image is better managed.
  2. Made a copy of the original image layer
  3. Selected the clone tool
  4. Adjusted the opacity, amount of feather around the brush and cloned the people by replacing them with the background.
  5. During cloning, there was a bit of colour spill on the ear. Hence, copy pasted a part of the boy’s head and ear from the base layer.
  6. After pasting it on the new layer, I added a layer mask and refined the blending
  7. Close to the boy’s other ear the there was distracting green patch, I have cloned that part too.

Dodging and Burning:

  1. To separate the subject from the background, I added dodging and burning.
  2. I do not use the dodging and burning tool from the tool bar. I feel it gives quite harsh results most of the time and creates halos around the dodged area. Hence, I prefer the following method to achieve the same.
  3. Add a layer on top (to the layer you want to dodge). Filled it with black > Reduced the opacity > added the layer mask > selected the mask and a brush with soft edges > started painting with the black colour on the main subject (this way you are masking the subject from getting affected by the black fill) > adjusted the opacity of the fill layer to accomplish desired dodging effect.
  4. Made a selection around the boy, then clicked on the layer containing the copied picture and adjusted the curves a bit.

Adding Catch light

  1. With oval marquee tool selected small area of boys eyes
  2. Added a new layer > Filled it with white
  3. From the filter, selected Gaussian blur
  4. Reduced the opacity of the layer


The altered Image:



In my opinion, I have managed to achieve neat results for the process. I have also shown the altered image to other people around me (to check, if they could see any obvious alteration). Subsequently, I also showed them the original version. I was pleased that the alteration results looked quite convincing. This surely displays my capability in handling such modifications in Photoshop. However, to me this is altering the fact. I am quite sure; I would not like use such trickery to achieve better travel images. At the same time, I also acknowledge that in certain industries, such alterations can be very useful and as long as the industry and the client is aware and willing to accept such alterations, it should be okay.


5 thoughts on “Exercise 23: Alteration

  1. There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game. Both boys and girls feel the impact of just a moment’s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.

  2. Thanks for helping to discuss this thoughts and opinions, I feel intensive about opinion and would like to learn much things on this thing. Possibly, as you acquire knowledge, would you mind updating your blog with quantities of more info? It’s very great for me.

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