The other night I was playing with this old photo below of an aloe plant at the gardens at Huntington Library. I had previously created some "photo art" from it which can be seen in my plants photo gallery, and at the time had used some of Photoshop's selection tools to essentially trace around the edges of the aloe plant so I could remove the background. Believe me it was wrist-breaking, hand-numbing work, since the background is busy and not all the "contrasty" compared to the plant. In fact since it was such a hard selection to do, I just ended up cropping out a lot of the background.
So since I know more about the power of using layers and blending modes in Photoshop these days, I wanted to see how much of the background I could "knock out" by simply laying different blending modes on top of each other.
Note, you can try this with some of your own photos if you have Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.
I opened the photo in Photoshop. The first layer in Photoshop is always called "Background". I immediately made a copy of the background layer. There are several ways of doing that. I like to use the keyboard shortcut which is Ctrl+J.
The new layer will be on top of the original layer, and it will be called "Layer 1". Note that I have highlighted the blending mode which is by default "Normal" and with 100% opacity. The photo looks exactly the same as the original at this point.
You can click on the dropdown next to Normal and cycle through the blending modes. Some will make a difference, some won't. Some make the picture darker, some lighter, some funky. You can control how much of the bottom layer shows through by lowering the opacity of the top layer.
I found that the mode called "color burn", which is one of the modes that darkens an image, removed almost all of the background and changed the color of the plant to a very attractive green-blue with the purples and blues of the edge lines emphasised.
This is how it looked after doing that:
Since the whole point of the exercise was to save time and my wrist, the question remained what to do about the remainder of the background that is still visible. The simple option I chose was to blur the edges of the photo creating a "depth of field" effect where the plant is in focus, and the background out of focus. To make the background disappear even more, when I took the image back to Photoshop Lightroom, I created a dark "vignette" around the edges using Lightroom's "post crop" vignette slider. Now almost all of the background was invisible and what remains adds to the overall artistic value of the photo.
The outcome, completed from start to finish in no more than 5 minutes and without a sore wrist can can be viewed in the plant photo gallery.
Below you can watch a video of some of my photos of plants.
Subscribe by email Your subscription will begin only after you activate it by responding to the email you will receive from "FeedBurner Email Subscriptions" immediately after submitting this request. If you do not see the email within the next minute, please check your spam folder.
As an Amazon Associate and Google Adsense publisher, I earn from qualifying purchases and ads
Allen's Hummingbird I have many hummingbirds that visit the feeders I have in my garden. The most colorful of them are the tiny, bu...
Most-Popular Posts in the Last 7 Days
Fourth in a series of photos of a bodyboarder at the beach in Kaanapali, Maui. This photo along with others in the series can be seen in the...
Third action shot of this bodyboarder at the beach in front of the Westin Hotel at Kaanapali, Maui. View this and more action shots in the ...
Ranunculus Flower Print (c) John Corney 2010 You probably don't have to dig too deep into your computer hard drive to find some...
You could prove me wrong and tell me this is not a parrot fish, but I believe it is after going through EVERY fish on the Monterey Bay Aqua...
This is an updated version of this photo of a Polynesian guy with a turtle tattoo on his shoulder . On his arms is a traditional shark-tooth...
Since I developed the digital watercolor processing that I used for the Alamos series , the popularity of those images and feedback from fri...
This young man was preparing with his friends for his moment of fame on the stage at the Samoan Village at the Polynesian dance festival cal...
Here are some photos I just restored for a friend of mine. She took these photos of a hot air balloon many years ago and told me she was thi...
Lake Cachuma, California I'm pretty pleased with how this photo turned out. It almost looks like a tone-mapped HDR image, but it...
Shooting Negatives for the Digital Darkroom A photograph of the Chinese Gardens at the Huntington Library in San Marino, Ca...