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Sometimes on an image there are some areas in the background that are over bright and out of focus, which distract from the main subject. At the moment I reduce the brightness by using the inpainting brush at a low transparency level, but I am sure there must be a better, none destructive, way. What would you do?

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The Inpainting brush can be used non-destructively if you create a new pixel layer and select "Current Layer & Below" in the context toolbar


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1 minute ago, mike21 said:

Sometimes on an image there are some areas in the background that are over bright and out of focus, which distract from the main subject. At the moment I reduce the brightness by using the inpainting brush at a low transparency level, but I am sure there must be a better, none destructive, way. What would you do?

You can use a curves adjustment:

  • Add a curves adjustment layer above the image.
  • Change the curve to reduce the brightness of the bright areas (note: this will at first reduce the look of the entire image).
  • Invert the adjustment layer's mask (this is actually the layer itself) so that it turns black.
  • Now, with a soft brush paint in white areas where you want the effect to be applied.

d.


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That's actually a very good question and one I often ask myself ... what is the correct way to remove those annoying bright areas in the background? You can use curves / levels and all that but ultimately this tends to give you a 'just as disgusting' grey area instead of a white one, which rarely looks good. The inpainting tool may well be the best solution, but it does very much depend on the image. You can use gradients placed subtly over the top where the colours have been picked from areas around the bright area - that may work. Sometimes painting the areas back in with a brush can work but that obviously requires some painting talent. If you do use gradients / painting of new colours into the space then it's normally a good idea to add a subtle amount of noise into the new painted areas, so they match the original picture better.

Sometimes you can hide them by using additional pictures and bringing background details from those into the scene (either by placing the images and then masking, or by using the mutliple sources with the clone tool).

Ultimately, and I'm presuming we're talking about photography here, the best method is to take a better picture in the first place without the distracting background. Whilst it's possible to fix things like this, it's sometimes easier/quicker to just go and grab another shot where you pay a bit more attention to the background content and the exposure. Not always viable of course, depending on the nature of the shot, but worth bearing in mind. Doing this also makes you a better photographer as over time you'll develop an instinctual 'eye' for these sort of distracting things.

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