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Hudson River From Yonkers Pier


Hudson River and George Washington Bridge From Yonkers Pier


I went deep into my unpublished archives from 2009 to find this one.*  It was taken from the Yonkers pier on the Hudson River, looking south towards New York City with the George Washington Bridge bisecting the view.

* Yes. I know. Five years — really more like 4.5 — is not that long ago. But it is roughly when I started my serious photography efforts so it’s as far back as I go for the most part.

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  • Toad Hollow PhotographyApril 10, 2014 - 7:13 pm

    A really, really strong image here, Mark, I love how those terrific silhouettes take on a bit of a relief feel to them, showcasing the wonderful city skyline! Fan-flippin-tastic shot here, my friend!ReplyCancel

Eastern State Pen Post Processing Profusion

Eastern State Penitentiary CellI have generally moved away from the more gimmicky post-processing techniques, but I seem to want to keep coming back to them for the Eastern State Penitentiary shots. As I’ve previously described, this is the old prison that’s being kept in a state of preserved decay, is open for visitors, and sits in downtown Philadelphia, very close the the center of town. As such, it is one of the more accessible abandoned sites I know of. Here I opted for a bit of artificial zoom blur to add to the mix, as well as some software induced plate scratches.





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  • Len SaltielApril 4, 2014 - 7:00 am

    I love shooting at this great place Mark. I really need to get back there this year. Nice image.ReplyCancel

Mesa Arch Without The Arch

Mesa Arch Without The Arch


First off I hope you enjoyed and weren’t fooled or put off by yesterday’s April Fools post. By the way, the first word of each sentence in the first paragraph was:



This shot is from the same locations as yesterday’s image, taken just a few yards to the left so Mesa Arch is not visible, and you have a slightly more expansive view of Canyonlands National Park. I can assure you that there were no secret or magical processing techniques used to create or process the image.

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Healing Entire Images in Photoshop

Almost anybody who uses Photoshop at all is familiar with the Spot Healing Brush. Photographers know it as one of the basic items in the Photoshop toolkit, and everyone needs it, usually sooner rather than later. Rent a camera with a dirty sensor? I think you want spot healing brush. Look — is there a smudge on the wall behind where you took that family portrait? Fortunately, spot healing brush fixes it. Over and over again we use it to heal mundane little problems. Once I used it to get rid of a ball floating in a lake. Levels might be too complicated for beginners. Spot Healing Brush is understood by everyone.

But I always wondered why it was called the spot healing brush, because it really seems to be a spot removal tool. Nobody wants their spots “healed,” they want them gone. So why was it called the spot healing brush? Along those lines, I noticed that Photoshop’s sibling Lightroom calls the same tool the Spot Removal Brush. Aperture calls its version “Retouching,” as does iPhoto. So what is this “healing” about? It seems so new-agey and holistic when you just want some bleach.

Well I put those thoughts out of my mind but they kept nagging me. Finally I decided that maybe there was something holistic and truly healing about this. Really, what if you could use the tool the “heal” an entire image? So I started investigating, and playing with key combinations, and found the following.

First let’s start with a basic unedited image that I took of Mesa Arch last April. It’s a great scene, but I had trouble figuring out just how to process it and full-image healing really saved the day for me.

I loved the image but I wasn’t happy with the light, and I had trouble with the color balance and a few other things. Everything I tried seemed wrong. So let’s start with the process.

First, select the Spot Healing Brush tool. It will probably look something like this depending on how big the brush was last time you used it:

Now you make the brush bigger with the right bracket “]” key, and smaller with the left bracket “[". But when you try to make the brush big enough to cover the entire image, it stops. It seems as if it does. At some point the circle disappears and all you see is the point that represents its center. But it does not really cover the entire image, as you can see when you click. Note how nearly the entire image is being processed,but two corners are uncovered.

If you let this process run you will just end up with a mess. What you need to do is to cover, and then "heal," the entire image.

Here is how it works: If you are on a Mac, select the Spot Healing tool, make it as large as you can normally, then press Option-Shift-Tilde-ESC-M. For a PC, press Function-Logo-Shift-Q-Backslash. Now when you press the Right Bracket or ] key, keep pressing about ten times after the brush seems to disappear. now, when you click the mouse to activate the tool, it truly covers, and heals the entire picture:

This is where you have to be patient, in two ways. First, this process can take a long time to work over the entire image. Two to three minutes is normal, and I’ve had it take as long as four-and-a-half. Second, because sometimes it just gets it wrong. You might have to try 2 or 3 times before getting a result you like, and on a small handful of images, I’ve had to give up and revert to manual edits. But on this image, which I ended up first publishing last June, I think the result was spectacular.

So the next time you have an image that you know has potential, but you’re having trouble getting it to the final result you see in your head, try this trick, to heal the entire image. It just might be the right tool for the job.

UPDATE: I think it’s a bit unfair to catch people with April Fool’s Day pranks when the day has passed so — to be clear — this post is an April Fool joke.

Also, I’m currently having site issues when posts have more than 3 images so if you cannot see the last images, including the final “result” of the technique here, I hope to have that fixed soon.

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  • Len SaltielApril 1, 2014 - 8:00 am

    That is an approach I would have never thought of Mark. I will have to try it. As far as the term “healing” brush, my guess that it was named that for editing portraits.ReplyCancel

  • James HoweApril 1, 2014 - 11:56 am

    Should the date of the posting be taken into account on the viability of this procedure? :-) ReplyCancel

    • MarkApril 1, 2014 - 7:58 am

      James you might want to look closely at every sentence in the first paragraph.ReplyCancel

  • Mike CriswellApril 1, 2014 - 12:26 pm

    LOL, great post Mark, cheers!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 1, 2014 - 12:28 pm

    I have never heard of this.
    Incredible transformation, Mark.
    Thank you for sharing here.ReplyCancel

  • Robert LussierApril 1, 2014 - 1:05 pm

    Well played. Well played.

  • Dave WilsonApril 1, 2014 - 3:12 pm

    Fabulous tip, Mark. I look forward to using this on every single image I ever shoot moving forward! I’m fairly sure you’ve just destroyed the stock photo market in a single blog post, though – how will everyone handle the influx of great pictures that we will all be creating now?ReplyCancel

  • Evan GearingApril 1, 2014 - 4:28 pm

    Works like a champ! Well, maybe not a champ, but works as intended IUKWIM… :-) ReplyCancel

  • […] off I hope you enjoyed and weren’t fooled or put off by yesterday’s April Fools post. By the way, the first word of each sentence in the first paragraph […]ReplyCancel

  • Armando MartinezApril 3, 2014 - 1:00 am

    Nice work. With results like that I think I’ll try it on all my photographs.ReplyCancel

    • MarkApril 3, 2014 - 9:54 am

      Thanks Armando. I know you’re quite a Photoshop/processing maven so praise like this from you means a lot!ReplyCancel

Mercer Parking Garage

Mercer Parking Garage


On Mercer Street, just south of Houston (and therefore in SoHo).

If not for the GARAGE sign hanging off the building, I would have shot this straight on, but then that sign would not be visible except on its edge.

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  • LensScaperApril 1, 2014 - 11:59 am

    I like the confusion inherent in the signage and the graffiti.ReplyCancel

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