Competing Elements

Quality Container Fixed — Wilson, NC  © jj raia

Quality Container Fixed — Wilson, NC © jj raia

In post processing, “fixing” has always been part of the process, defined as taking care of dust spots, errant twigs, cigarette butts, or any other distraction within an image, generally accomplished in Lightroom or Photoshop. It can be the simple removal of a few sensor spots, or as major as removing people, cars or trees (although I’ve never done anything to that extreme). I can remember discovering what appeared to be thousands of specks of debris on the surface of a lake after zooming into 1:1 on the computer screen. Since they would be a distraction from what I saw of the smooth surface reflections in an enlarged print, several hours were spent removing every single one using Photoshop’s clone tool. And the bad thing was there were two differing images that needed that same “fixing”! To see that post and the two (yellowish) photos, click here.

For the image above, my instinct was the large tar spot needed to be removed from the image below and replaced with a continuing and connected rust stain, in order to achieve what I thought would be a cleaner image without the two competing elements, namely the black spot vs. the “Quality Container” sign. As it was, it also seemed to be unbalanced with the black area supplying a heavier weight on the right-hand side. There was no possibility to move the camera to the left because it made the imbalance worse, so it was taken with the black spot in hopes of being able to successfully take it out, even though it would be a stretch of my Photoshop skills. I had never taken anything large out of a photo before, except a tree appearing to grow out of my sister-in-law’s head against a blue sky. So that was not a stretch. But removing the dark spot which took up quite a bit of real estate within the frame would not be easy, at least for the limited Photoshop skills I had at the time, and still lack.

To begin with, the photo was taken from across the street using a 70-200mm lens, with the camera raised as high as possible to be viewing this part of the building close to straight on, thereby keeping the ribs of the galvanized metal sided wall parallel to the frame’s sides. The blue of the scene was picked up from the clear blue western sky behind me on that early morning, with the wall being completely in shade. The only other area of wall that I could capture without the black patch would not include the sign or anything else of consequence, therefore lacking a focal point altogether, just the blue ribbed wall. And I did take that photo in case it was needed to help in the removal of the black patch.

Quality Container — Wilson, NC  © jj raia

Quality Container “FIXED” — Wilson, NC © jj raia

The intervening years since the photo was made have fostered a reconsideration about the black area. I still feel as though it is a distraction because it is to where my eye initially gravitates, rather than the sign which was the intended focal point. But the question now is: has the scene been rendered sterile and lacking authenticity without said spot? Or have those concepts surfaced only because I know (and have now shared) how the scene originally appeared. The next question is whether proper balance within the frame is a necessity for it to be successful? Please weigh in…

5 thoughts on “Competing Elements

  1. I love the without version! Maybe it’s b/c you mentioned THE SPOT enough and now I’m obsessed or too susceptible to the power of suggestion or maybe it really is a balance issue but I keep falling in that big black hole & have to force myself to go back to the sign.


  2. Rather than cloning it out, have you thought about making the black hole a different color, desaturating and/or adding something interesting but subtle there? It would be a great exercise to give this picture to a few photogs and see what they come up with leaving everything else the same and manipulating the black hole. Was also wondering if the scene was so blue or you “made” it that way.


    1. I’ll send you a jpeg tomorrow if you promise not to put a broken doll in that spot… But thanks for offering some options. Do I detect a new website?


    2. The Blue was the absorption of the color in the sky by the metal walls and reflected. I think it’s a great idea to farm it out and I’ll send you a jpeg via email and see what you come up with.


  3. That was the problem I had with it as well. I guess our eyes are drawn to dark spots as well as bright spots, or differing light values from the main value: a large area of light in an otherwise dark frame, or a dark area in a bright frame as it is for this one.
    Squeezed in some shooting this morning at Fearington with some fog!! But had problems with Photoshop and had to Force Quit it. Lucky to save the work I did, but still some problems to overcome. Thanks for taking the time and hope you two are well…


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