Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Guest Blog: Using Content Aware Fill to Make Your Assistants Disappear

QaioQiao - Copyright Kaethe Richter - All Rights Reserved

My name is QiaoQiao (chow-chow), and I am a fashion, teen and wedding photographer. I was featured in Ron's article entitled Travel Photography: Photographing People At Night In New York City. Ron is busy testing the Nikon D800, so he asked me if I could guest blog to you today to talk about my favorite Photoshop feature – Content Aware Fill!

Adding excitement to your photos with motion

I love photos with motions like moving hair and dresses like these photos that I did: 

Copyright QaioQiao Jade - All Rights Reserved

Copyright QaioQiao Jade - All Rights Reserved

So when I shoot weddings, I like to try to capture motion like this. What I usually do is have someone flap or throw the hair or dress real quick and have them run as fast as they can. That someone is usually my business partner Kaethe Richter, a recent guest blogger here. We second shoot for each other (very important for weddings), but we also assist each other to help each other get motion shots like those shown above.

Copyright Kaethe Richter - All Rights Reserved
Kaethe & QiaoQiao

Dealing with the classic problem of motion shots

Copyright Kaethe Richter - All Rights Reserved
Silly assistants don’t always escape fast enough

Motion shots are great, but you typically need an assistant to pull the shot off. The problem with this is that most of the time that assistant cannot run get out of the way quick enough, so you end up with body parts from your assistant in the shot. For example, in the shot above I was the slow assistant caught in Kaethe’s photo – oops, ha, ha!

Photoshop's Content Aware really saved my life!

Before I got Photoshop CS5,  I used to have clone stamp everything out and it took forever!. Now it only takes a couple seconds! Of course sometimes it doesn’t work, but the new content aware patch tool in Photoshop CS6 (preview videos) goes a long way in solving nearly every problem you can think of.

Here’s a quick example of a photo that really demonstrates just how easy and fast this feature can be. First, you open a photo in Photoshop and select the person or subject that you wish to get rid of as shown here:

Next, you just go to the Edit menu and choose Fill:

From the contents section, change the “Use” item to “Content Aware” then click OK as shown here:

Wait a minute and then magic happens – voila, the distracting assistant is gone:

Of course it is not always perfect like this, but the content aware patch tool in CS6 helps to solve some of the problems you’d have in CS5 by allowing you to choose where to sample the content aware fill from. If you don’t have CS6, then you can just use clone stamp to fix it. Of course, this always works best when you have a simple background with a predictable pattern, but you’d be amazed at how often it just gets things right! 

Here’s the resulting image where you can’t even tell there was ever an assistant – it even handled the area by the foot and the dress so that it looks natural! 

Copyright Kaethe Richter - All Rights Reserved

You can learn more about me on my website at and your can follow me on my blog at You can also see more pics from this couple's wedding at


QiaoQiao wrote this article upon request of Ron Martinsen as a public service. There are links in this article which could result in a commission if you make a purchase.

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