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Content Aware - Photoshop CS5

This weekend I had a bunch of photo's I needed to edit and with my MacBook Pro going through a weird moment of wanting to reboot itself every 20mins I opted to download a trial version of Adobe Photoshop CS5 onto another computer and use that instead. I've used Photoshop CS4 for a while but hadn't seen any cause for me to warrant paying the hefty price to upgrade, many of the new features were of little interest to me and CS4 did way more than I needed.

...or so I thought!

After doing all the edits that I needed to do using the tools I was already familiar with I thought I'd have a play around with some of the newer features and see what they did. One that I was particularly intrigued by was the 'content aware' function. It can be used under a variety of circumstances such as filling a space or when using the clone tool. It uses a bunch of (i'd assume) very complex algorithms to determine (guess) at what should be in the image background based upon the pixels around the selected area. To test this I played around with using the clone tool to remove a few stray hairs from a portrait shot – something that may have been a 5-10min job to do correctly ordinarily. Switching from the 'proximity match' (as per CS4) to 'content-aware' the hairs were removed in one stroke and replaced with a natural looking background with no horrible dark smudges. It took a matter of seconds and needed no further manual correction. I then tried it on something I thought might be a little tricker – using the 'content-aware fill' function to fill out the missing area's stitched together panoramic shot. The results of this were outstanding!

The panorama below was taken on an Olympus EP1 using an old manual FD mount Canon 28mm lens and consist of 12 images stitched together. Theres a lot not to like about the picture (in my defence I'd just climbed up a bloody great big hill!) not least the amount of the frame that has to be cropped out post stitching:

Example 1 - original stitching


This cropping of images is a common occurrence in the panoramic shot where you can often loss around 30% of the image, unless of course you want to spend hours and hours copying, blending and smudging pixels in an effort to restore parts of the missing image! I never want to do that so end up with a cropped image such as this:

Example 2 - blank areas cropped out


In Photoshop CS5 with the missing areas of the image selected you're shown a new option when entering the fill command (keyboard shortcut: command-shift-backspace). Alongside 'fill with foreground' and 'fill with background' you can also use 'content-aware fill'. With this option chosen the application whirled for a bit (it was a 1.5gb file!) but after around 10mins gave the following result, with no manual corrections applied:

Example 1 - using 'content-aware fill'


I'm not sure whether this function alone is enough to warrant me forking out for the upgrade, but I've another 28 days of the trial period left so perhaps I'll find other new features that'll get be hooked and perhaps going back to my previously thought unsalvageable images I'd shelved!

Should you like to take a closer look the full res images are here:

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Reader Comments (2)

They say adobe photoshop is not easy to learn but I wanna learn how to use it. I tried to explore but I really don't know how to use the tools I've seen there. Do you know some sites for adobe photoshop tutorial?

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergarage equipment

I am loving the CS5 since i got sometime to learn it.It makes my photos very much good and it can make a number of photos packed into one gorgeous picture.Backgrounds and enhancing makes a lot of great adventure.

September 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTyre Changers

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