Sometimes reality is a little too drab. Last week we started to make over a landscape photo of Mount Baker, on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.
We started with the usual improvements, such as brightness and contrast, using the Histogram Adjustment tool. This week we’ll change reality more dramatically by pasting in some majestic birds.
Cut Out a Bird
Our first task this week is to select some birds to add to the scene. Here are three photos we can use:
Load the first of these photos into your favorite image editing program (I’ll use Corel’s Paint Shop Pro). Zoom in far enough that the bird becomes large on your screen. You can zoom by rolling the mouse wheel, if your mouse has one. If not, click the Pan tool, which is the top item in the toolbar on the left side of the screen, and then click Zoom in the Tool Options palette. (You can toggle Tool Options on by choosing View, Palettes, Tool Options.)
Click the Freehand Selection tool, which lives in the third cubby from the top of the toolbar, and then set it to Smart Edge mode in the Tool Options palette. Also in the Tool Options palette, set Feather to 1 pixel to smooth out the selection and make it look more natural. Now just click around the edges of the bird until you work your way all around, then double-click. When you see a complete selection, choose Edit, Copy.
Paste It Into the Scene
Now it’s time to work some magic. Open the background scene we were working on last week. Alternately, you can download this photo, which has the histogram adjustments already baked in. Choose Edit, Paste as New Layer from the menu, and you’ll see the bird appear in the scene–it should look like it belongs there, because I took the bird photos during the same session.
Now you can position this bird anywhere in the scene as if it were a magnetic toy. Click the Pick tool (second from the top of the toolbar) and use it to drag the bird anywhere around the screen. You can even use this tool to make the bird bigger or smaller. To resize the bird, just use the Pick tool to drag one of its corners.
Add More Birds
We’re not done changing reality–there are more birds! Open the other photos in your image editor and select them, one at a time, in the same way. Paste the birds into the background photo and arrange them artistically in the scene. Don’t forget that you can use the Pick tool to move each of the birds around on the screen and even vary their size.
Here’s my finished version of the Mount Baker scene.
Hot Pic of the Week
Get published, get famous! Each week, we select our favorite reader-submitted photo based on creativity, originality, and technique. Every month, the best of the weekly winners gets a prize valued at between $15 and $50.
Here’s how to enter: Send us your photograph in JPEG format, at a resolution no higher than 640 by 480 pixels. Entries at higher resolutions will be immediately disqualified. If necessary, use an image editing program to reduce the file size of your image before e-mailing it to us. Include the title of your photo along with a short description and how you photographed it. Don’t forget to send your name, e-mail address, and postal address. Before entering, please read the full description of the contest rules and regulations.
This Week’s Hot Pic: ” Lily of the Valley,” by Reverend Pat Torok, New Galilee, Pennsylvania
Torok writes: “This lily was home-grown by my father-in-law. I waited for it to bloom with great anticipation. Finally, I found that it had opened after a stormy night, with rain drops still pooled on the pedals. The overhead sun provided perfect lighting.”