Many times in photography (especially macro photography) you can often end up with a image that features a beautifully detailed subject AND a distracting background. Even though your foreground subject is your focus, your background (or what can be seen of it) is just as important as the subject itself.

Here are some simple steps that you can follow along with (using ReMask and PS) to easily clean up distracting backgrounds and bring attention back to your subject.

© OeilDeNuit

As you can see there is a cross located in the background of my example image. To fix this issue, I will cutout my subject, eliminate the distracting background element and then recompose my foreground and background. I’ll be working with ReMask, a few layers in Photoshop and also Photoshop’s Content Aware tool.

Start by duplicating your image layer.

Take your top image layer into ReMask to create your cutout. Once you finish masking, click OK to save your extraction back to Photoshop.

Back in Photoshop, hide the layer that has your newly added cutout/mask (hint: click the eyeball icon on that layer). We’ll come back to it shortly.

Click on the original image layer (below your masked layer) to activate it. Then select your Rectangle Marquee tool (or any other selection tool of your choice) and make a selection. You can right click and select Fill -> Content Aware. Repeat as necessary until the area is filled to your satisfaction.

You can also use the Clone brush to clone the areas around your subject. Or if you have a more of a solid color background (no gradient effects) then you can use the color picker to select the background color and brush in any necessary areas using a soft brush.

Unhide your top layer to see the completed effect. If you’d like, you can process either or both layers with filters…or may any other desired adjustments/selections.

The new photoFXlab 1.2 update features the ability to save your project and layers (saved in “pfxl” format). This new saving capability will allow you to save a project in progress, so that you can return to it at a later time to resume edits. It’s also helpful to those that want to keep a layered record of the work done to each image.

Opening Your Files
When you have photoFXlab open (in stand-alone mode) then you will be able to go to File->Open or File ->Recent Files.

If you choose File -> Open it will then open your finder and you can browse through your files. You will be able to open jpegs, tiffs, pngs, and pfxl from photoFXlab (in stand-alone mode).

When you are using photoFXlab as a plug-in (ONLY) you will be able to access your RAW files as well.

You can also use the shortcut keys Cntrl+O (Cmnd+O for Mac) to launch your Open Finder window.

You will also have the option to open one of your eight most recent photos by going to File->Open Recent. Selecting one of those photos will open up the photo in the interface immediately.

If you have a .pfxl file saved, then you will be able to open and edit the layers that you have saved in your layers panel. You will also be able to save your layers with the .pfxl exten- sion when you are using photoFXlab as a plug-in. You will go to File->Save As when you have the program open, and save your file. You will then have to open the program in stand- alone mode to access that .pfxl file with the layers.

Saving Your Files
When you are finished with your project you will have the op- portunity to save your project.

By choosing File->Save your finder window will pop-up with the files original file name. You can then choose to change
or keep the orignial file name, as well as select the file type. You can save as a .tiff, .jpg, .png, or as a .pfxl file. The .pfxl file will be the only file format that will save your layers as a form of non-destructive editing. You an also use the shortcut keys Cntrl+S (Cmnd+S for Mac) to launch your Save Finder window.
By choosing File -> Save As, you will have all of the same op- tions as File->Save, but the file name will be blank, allowing for you to save it as your own unique file name. You can also use the shortcut keys Cntrl+Shift+S (Cmnd+Shift+S for Mac) to launch your Save As Finder window.

Here’s a quick masking tip that you might find helpful to your workflow. Often you may find it necessary to apply different filters/effects to your layers to create your overall effect. In some cases you my have have one mask and two layers that you’d like to apply filters to. You can duplicate the mask from one layer and apply it to the second layer – without having to go back into ReMask to create (the same mask) on the second layer.

To duplicate your mask and apply it to another layer simply click on the mask thumbnail in the layers palette. Hold down the ALT key and drag the mask from that layer to the layer you want to add it to.

One of the new features in the just released photoFXlab 1.2 update is the ability to host certain 3rd party .8bf plug-ins. This new ability offers additional convenience and flexibility to your workflow.

Using Additional Plug-ins
Within photoFXlab you are able to use certain additional plug-ins that are compatible with Adobe Photoshop. However please note that there may be some plug-ins that aren’t supported. These additoinal plug-ins must have the .8bf extension in order to be used in photoFXlab. To add or remove these plug-ins to your photoFXlab Filters tab please go to Filter -> Add/Remove Plug-ins.

Once you select Add/Remove plug-ins, you will see your Additional Plug-in Manager

To add a plug-in to you will click on Add which will launch a finder menu allowing you to navigate your system to select the desired plug-in(s).

Follow the directions below to access your plug-ins…

For Mac:
Macintosh HD -> Library -> Application Support ->Select plug- in folder-> Choose

For PC:
C: -> Program Files -> Select plug-in folder -> OK

Once you select those file locations you will be directed back to the Additonal Plug-in Manager. You will see the plug-in folder that you selected, now in your Plug-in Manager. Once you click Quit, that will save the change.

How to Remove Plug-ins
To remove a plug-in from your photoFXlab program you will need to launch the Plug-in Manager and click the plug-in file that you wish to remove. Select Remove and then Quit to save the changes.

Update to the new photoFXlab™ V1.2

We are happy to announce the availability of version 1.2, which is a free download to current owners. Over the last few weeks, our developers have been working nonstop to make sure photoFXlab™ has more of the features and fixes you requested – making your Topaz workflow easier and even more effective. In the new photoFXlab™ v1.2 you’ll find the ability to save your project (layers using a new topaz file format), 3-party plug-in support (for select .8bf plug-ins), cropping grid overlay (stand-alone mode only), and Aperture plug-in support.

With the release of 1.2, now is the perfect time to change the way you enhance your photos with extended power, control and flexibility over your Topaz workflow. photoFXlab™ gives you instant access to your creative effects presets, a layered workflow, built-in masking with edge aware technology, selective adjustments, easy to use color / tone control with IntelliColor™ technology and the new InstaTone™ tool. Click here to learn more about photoFXlab™.

Special photoFXlab Offer!

If you’re ready to take your Topaz workflow to the next level by adding photoFXlab™ to your Topaz collection, then be sure to take advantage
of the special end of summer savings. Right now you can get photoFXlab™ for only $29.99. (A $50 Savings.) Just enter the coupon code: ” CreateFX “ when purchasing. Offer expires: August 31, 2012.

Want to try before you buy? You can get a FREE, fully-functional,
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