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How to remove background distractions

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, there are distracting elements in the background of your photos. As photographers, we do our best to fix these distractions while we are shooting, but some slip through. Here’s how to remove distracting elements in an image by replacing them with sections of the background.

I’m using Luminar 3 from Skylum Software for this example. You can use any image editing software that has layers.

Step 1: Prepare the image by cropping and applying a few development enhancements.

Step 2: Duplicate the background by clicking the Layer’s + symbol at the top of the Layers panel and select Create Stamped Layer. A Stamped Layer merges all of the current layers and filters combine to a new layer at the top of the Layers panel. This will allow us to mask and blend the Stamped Layer with the bottom layer.

Step 3: Flip the Stamped Layer by selecting Free Transform from the Tools menu or by using keyboard shortcut Ctrl (Win) or Command (Mac) T. Click the Flip Horizontal symbol on the Free Transform toolbar to flip the image horizontally.

Step 4: Add a Layer Mask by clicking the Edit Mask button on the Stamped Layer. Select Brush as the mask type. Choose Paint from the Mask Toolbar and, painting at 100 percent opacity, paint along the edge to apply a mask and to show the Stamped Layer. Switch to Erase to remove the mask and hide the Stamped Layer. Click the Done button to apply the mask.

Step 5: To continue editing, merge the two layers by creating a new Stamp Layer. Without this step, any changes from this point will only be applied to the mask and not the entire image.

By learning how to use sections of an image’s background to replace distractions, you added another skill to your editing workflow. Try combining this concept with the Clone and Stamp or the Erase tool when you find distracting elements in your image.

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