Cloning Out In Photoshop

Dominic Dorey Editing, Lightroom, Photoshop, Tutorial, Weddings Leave a Comment

I’ve had the privilege of shooting quite a few weddings, I think I’m up to about 45 now, and they have been a mix of church or civil ceremonies but before Annalea & Ben’s big day none of them have been a Catholic wedding.

This wedding was held at The Friary in Crawley, which is situated right next door to the town centre, and I have no idea if this is normal for catholic churches or not because I have never witnessed this at Church of England weddings, but members of the public would just walk in whilst the ceremony was under way, quietly sit down somewhere and have a pray and a moment or two to gather their thoughts and then just get up and leave.

I do realise that churches, when unlocked, are open to anyone to visit, but  have never known just anyone to walk in whilst a wedding was under-way unless they were actually part of the wedding party and the thing was, because Crawley is such a busy town it wasn’t just one or two who popped in for five minutes, it was more like 6 or 7 throughout the course of the wedding.

These quick visits were of  no issue to me, they were just a bit of a surprise, well I say no issue, at one point only did it become a minor issue. As the bride and groom were leaving the church and I was walking backwards photographing their exit, another visitor entered and had sat down to pray in the very back row. The bride and groom got to the top of the aisle just before the exit and stopped for a quick kiss. I wasn’t going to stop what was a natural moment to ask the guest to shift to their left by about 6 feet just so I could capture the moment without them in it, I had to capture it there and then with her in it as well.

However, with the greatest of respect to the visitor, I am now looking at a good image that has a huge distraction in it. So what can I do about it?

As luck would have it there is enough real estate either side of the person to allow me to do some cloning out in photoshop that will allow me to remove them out without to much of an issue. So once I had finished globally editing the image in Lightroom I right clicked the image and chose Edit In and then selected to open as a Smart Object in Photoshop CC 2014.

Once opened in Photoshop I then head to the bottom of layer panel on the right hand side and choose add a new blank layer.

Now I grab the cloning tool, but, because we are working on a blank layer it has nothing to sample across into the area that is to be cloned, so we need to select Sample option as Current and Below, because if we leave it as current it will sample nothing.


Next we need to mark where we are gong to sample from and then start painting in the sample to the place that we want cloned out. So here I have sampled the seat edge to the left by holding the ALT key and clicking the exact place I want to start the sample from and have then lined the brush up carefully with where the seat edge is right where the lady is sitting and then I start to paint away carefully ensuring that the cloned out area continues to match and importantly look realistic.


To enable any blending to look more realistic I tend to leave the hardness of the of the brush at 0% so it has a nice soft edge. Also, to do this carefully it is ideal if you don’t use a brush that is to big. Covering to much area in a single brush stroke can lead to things going off-line and uncontrolled quite quickly.

If  at any point the alignments start to go slightly off line I will then stop and re-sample, and continue to brush the clone tool until it is done.

However, once it is done, if you can see a pattern has appeared in the area you have cloned out and it is quite obvious to you that something has been done in that area, it can then be quite easy to find yourself try to rectify it and go overboard with it by continuing to clone the area over and over again just  to try and make it look more natural. There is a bit of a trick to blending things in better.

What I did here was to finish the base cloning so that the lady was now removed, but a couple of areas, to my eye, looked a bit off, so I re-sampled further down the bench to the left and changed the opacity of the brush down to a much lower number, somewhere between 25-50% and then carefully lining it up with where I wanted to brush and brush only a couple of times and it gave that area a much more finished feel by just smoothing out a bit of patterning that had appeared.

Once finished I then switch that top layer on and off to see the actual change and that in itself gives you a clear view of exactly how well you have cloned out whatever it was you were cloning out and how natural the finished image now looks. Once I was happy with it I simply save the image and head back to Lightroom to carry on with the editing.

One thing I will say about cloning, is that the results you get really does depend on what you have to work with within the image itself and how much practice you get at cloning, because it’s not easy. I remember in my early days of trying to clone stuff out, failing miserably, closing it all down, coming back to it the next day and giving it another go. Some efforts were more successful that others but over time the fails have dwindled and the successes have risen, and that’s all due to practice and patients.

Well, I now have an image I am very happy with. I know there is a bridesmaid just over the grooms shoulder, but she was part of the wedding and so I can accept her being there, but the guest lady, well I know she had every right to be there, I just feel she didn’t add anything to my image and so she had to go. Harsh but fair I think lol.

Well that’s it from me for now. If you have any questions about cloning or would like to comment then please feel free to use the comment form below.

Catch up soon……Dom 🙂

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