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Okay, That’s Vaguely Spooky

So, Photoshop CS5 is available for download, and I have heard many things about its new context-sensitive healing tool, and how it basically does an amazing job of excising large objects out of pictures and making it seem like they were never there at all. So I got it and decided to test it. Here’s a picture of Kodi by the dwarf cherry tree a couple of weeks ago, when it was in bloom:

And here’s a single pass of the context-sensitive healing brush tool:

Verdict: Damn, that’s pretty impressive for one pass. I think if you know something’s missing out of the picture, you can see a smudge in the grass, but if you were looking at it without that contextual clue, you might not guess. It’s never been easier to be a Soviet propaganda minister! Don’t worry, I promise to use this power only for good. Or to amuse myself. Either is good.

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

50 replies on “Okay, That’s Vaguely Spooky”

I am so very jealous of you right now.

But in the name of science, I think you should paint Kodi a lush emerald green and set up the shot again and see how Photoshop does–that or cover your lawn in pancakes before reshooting.


I think if you know something’s missing out of the picture, you can see a smudge in the grass….

I propose an experiment. Show the second photo to people, without them having seen the first one, and ask them to point out where the dog was (for simplicities sake limit the options to left foreground, middle foreground or right foreground).

From what I’m seeing I don’t think they’d be able to pick the spot with chances better than luck.

I can see the smudge easily, and could probably detect it with diligence if all I knew was that ‘something was missing’. From cold, I dunno.

hugh57@15: In that case, the Vaguely Dog-Shaped Spectre would raise rather alarming questions, whose answers we probably aren’t meant to –

– So that’s it! Kodi’s part of the official cover-up! Oooo-errrrr….

Michael @11: Don’t be silly. The Texas BOE isn’t using anything NEARLY that subtle. (And let’s not confuse the BOE with the entire state, please, especially since some of the sitting members didn’t even win their primaries — largely, I would hope, as a result of boneheaded decisions such as the one you mention.)

This functionality has been available in other high end graphics tools for many years. When I first saw it demonstrated it was used to remove a flock of ducks on a pond. It was really kind of creepy in a Cheshire Cat sort of way. The before picture had the ducks peacefully paddling around. The after showed only a flock of v-shaped wakes in a duck-free pond.

Congrats on continuing to manage your addiction.

I will take this Photoshop post to mean your deadline was met and being the Photoshop junkie you are you are getting your fix.

It’s never been easier to be a Soviet propaganda minister!

Outdated, but acceptable. We also would have accepted Iranian propaganda minister or Fox ‘News’ correspondent.

wow.

Just wait though. There’ll be an episode of CSI-Timbuktu* where they have a picture with something removed, and they’ll run it through even more magically enabled software which will figure out what was removed and regenerate the original photo, thus proving that the butler did indeed do it.

* Oh come on, if it doesn’t exist already, they’re bound to make that spin off someday.

@26 BionicHands, that was my first thought as well. No more odly composed photo’s with mysterious disembodied arm around the female subject. No more photo’s carefully ripped in half to remove the offensive portion.
BTW. I’m a guy so this is just another thing I don’t understand about women. Why not just chuck the whole pic? That or just keep the whole pic?

That’s pretty amazing.

The thing that freaked me out a little when I read about it is the “lens correction feature” that’s a part of Camera Raw 6 (which I guess is part of Photoshop CS5). If I understand it right, you can apply a pre-defined “lens profile” (or create your own lens profile and apply it) and Photoshop will automatically apply corrections to the photo based on the physical geometry of the lens.

I got a little freaked out because I remember something like this being mentioned (just in passing) as a plot point in *The Hunt For Red October*; you know, one of those super-secret room full of supercomputers DOD technologies. Now we’ve got it on our desktops.

Welcome to the future. Where’s my darn flying car?

Showing my sad lack of graphic art knowledge, here, but I have to know: how does the software know what was behind Kodi? (I wondered this even before the fancy new feature, by the way.) I mean, I always thought if you removed something from a photo you just got a blank thing-shaped spot.

sarawr: It doesn’t. It merely guesses based on what’s beside Kodi, and puts in something that blends in with it, mostly copying from that. Our assumptions (and the visual brain is very good at making assumptions) provide the rest of the trick.

If you look closely, you can actually tell that it’s wrong. The brown maybe-sortof-mulched patch around the tree extends just past the right side of Kodi’s tail, so that is certainly what’s actually behind her. However, Photoshop has considered that part of what needs to be removed, and so has filled in over it with grass, as well as putting grass in place of the dog herself.

(I also expect, if we looked at the photo in any higher resolution, we’d see that the vertical line between the mulch and grass is all wrong, since Photoshop doesn’t have anything to copy from with that. But low-resolution photos can hide multitudes of sins like that.)

sarawr: Or, as more direct answer: Yes, when Photoshop removed Kodi from this photograph, it got a blank spot. The “magic” is that it then fills in the blank spot with something that looks sort-of right, based on clever guesswork and copying nearby bits.

Soon, this will be built right into your eyeglasses.

“Honey, you look as beautiful as the day we met.”

“I like this program!”

Ah, but you miss the point. Many aeons ago some entity used a copy of “Godshop” to add the grass, tree, planet and sky to an otherwise black void.

Your Photoshop, earthling, has only done a little of what the original “Creation creating” tool can do.

I repeat: Obama has never bowed abjectly, and we have the pictures to prove it!

Ah well. Another reasonable source of evidence going out the window. Only a matter of time and computing resources now before “touching up” film will be as easy and inexpensive.

That’s very funny. The instant I saw the top picture, I immediately thought “That dog was photoshopped in”

I guess I was close to the truth in a “that’s so wrong that it’s gone all the way through and is bumping up against truth from the other side” sort of way.

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