A Photo(shop) Essay

Once upon a time, I posted a water shot here. Okay, it was just the other day. My readers (yes, all six of them) said that they liked it. I liked it too (I’m the sixth reader).


But the actual image straight from the camera was, well, kinda messy.


Yuck. See how ugly it was? All those water spots that the faucet spray deposited on the lens made me want to go clean up my kitchen pronto. Fortunately, the feeling passed.

So I fired up Photoshop CS2 and the first thing I did was Auto Contrast. Because it was late, I was a little sleepy, and I’m never sure where to start or stop so I let Photoshop decide and then took that as my starting point. Also, I really just don’t know that I’m doing.


Not bad, eh? Looking better already. But I really couldn’t stand those spots in the dark space. So I figured, no problem, I’ll clone them out. So I sampled an area as close as possible to the first spot and started. And I didn’t “paint” the spots with strokes – I “dabbed” by clicking on them.


Okay, spots are less noticeable, but now I have gray circles there that still mess up the photo. And I didn’t want to risk feeling like cleaning my kitchen again.

Then I remembered something I read in Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Elements 3 book, so I decided to try it. First, using the Lasso tool, I selected the offending area in the left.


Yes, I know I have unsteady hands and can’t draw to save my life. But not to fear, there’s always Feather to the rescue (sounds like some chicken superhero, doesn’t it?) . I set the Feather to 10, because I like round numbers. And pi.


Much better shape, eh? Then, I went to Filter and picked Gaussian blur and moved the slider to the right until the spots just disappeared. It was like smoothing out the dark area. The result was so cool and sooo much easier than cloning that I didn’t even mind so much that the blur setting was at 7.3 and not a round number.


Look at that pretty left side. It’s so nice and neat and fits so well with my brain that was just starting to register the non-round number I just used. So before it could protest and rebel and kick and scream, I did the same thing to the right side.


Ah. That’s better. Now all it needs is a little sharpening. Since there aren’t really a lot of details in here that can benefit from sharpening, and all I wanted to do was to make the outline of the bubbles pop (my inadvertent puns kill me!), I used the Sharpen Edges filter.


Much nicer, I thought. So nice that I figured I’d do it one more time.


Excellent. I was about ready to dance a jig. Then, just to defy my brain one more time (I was getting bold now – I was Photoshop empowered!), I thought I’d do one more contrast adjustment and set that to 6. Not 5 or 10, but 6. Ha! Take that, you numbers freak you.


Isn’t that trippy? Once again, here’s the before and after:



Now when I look at the final version, it makes me think that my kitchen is spotless and that you can eat spaghetti and meatballs off my floor. I like it!

The End

P.S. I’m sorry for making you look at so many pictures of shiny water. Will you forgive me if I post a flower picture? Here’s the two mums from the same post, a little less sharp this time.


I hope we can be friends again. And if not, you can blame Shrew. Because she was the one who told me I needed to post this. (Sorry pal, but if I’m going down, I’m taking you with me.)

9 Responses to A Photo(shop) Essay
  1. shrewspeaks
    November 1, 2007 | 2:14 pm

    Way to sell me out.

  2. barbara
    November 1, 2007 | 5:10 pm

    I don’t own Photohop (and probably never will unless I win the lottery,) but I love the step by step to see what I could be learning how to do if I could et my hands on it. Thanks. Sigh! I love the water shot, by the way.

  3. brc
    November 1, 2007 | 6:55 pm

    Ivoryhut this is very cool, but I’m starting to get bummed out that I need to be a graphic artist in order to be a good photographer. I still need to learn the basics of photography before I learn anything about Photoshop. I all sounds so COMPLICATED :(

    brc walks away in a huff at how much she still has to learn.

  4. Wakkos
    November 1, 2007 | 7:32 pm

    lol xD I like the flower picture =P But if you want to explain something, nothing better than pics! pics owns!

    BTW there’s a white shinning on the top left part of the water, is it in purpose or maybe you’ll clon-stamp-tool it?

    P.S.: Here is my aportation to flower thing! I’m going down with you two then =P

  5. karmardav
    November 5, 2007 | 4:39 pm

    Wow ivory! I think that is just the coolest shot. The water looks like its lit from inside.
    (I get the urge to clean my kitchen every now and then too, but then I usually find something better to do – like reading blogs!)

  6. […] So here’s the first of what I hope to be a series of ten. Because, as you well know, I like round numbers. […]

  7. ivoryhut
    November 12, 2007 | 11:09 am

    Hey Wakkos! Glad to see you here. Sorry for the delay in acknowledging you, it seems as though my earlier comment disappeared.

    Yeah, sorry about that spot up there. I decided to do a quick illustrated guide, so I wasn’t as careful the second time around. Maybe I’ll fix it when I get the time.

    Nice flower, by the way. That’s a hibiscus bud, isn’t it?

  8. createmo
    November 1, 2008 | 10:22 pm

    Thank you for your site :-)
    I made with photoshop backgrounds for youtube, myspace and more
    my backgrounds:http://tinyurl.com/5assk2
    all the best and thank you again!

  9. M
    September 18, 2010 | 5:37 am

    I would feel like brc — if it weren’t for the fact that I read here on PW’s blog how you explained the Rule of Thirds in about two sentences and that was the first time I ever understood it.

    So I feel like there is hope.

    Thank you. And that sparkly shot of the water does indeed look beautiful.

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about me

I write, cook, play music, and make pictures. Not necessarily in that order. I was born and raised in the Philippines, and it shows. That means I eat rice with every meal, love my cousins like my own siblings, and firmly believe that avocados are best eaten with cream and sugar.

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One summer night in 2010, our house burned to the ground and we lost everything we had. This is the story of what happened and how life and hope can always rise from ashes.