It is often said, that the key to taking amazing photos is being in the right place at the right time. This, however, is easier said than done. Sometimes you just can’t come back later, even though the light, colors and the arrangement of elements in the photo were anything but perfect you took it the first time around. In such cases a sprinkle of good old “photoshop magic” is needed, in order to transform a decent photo into a good or even great one. Today we will discuss how to easily select parts of one photo and add them to another one, in order to enhance it.
For this we will need an image editing application more powerful than Lightroom. It doesn’t have to be Photoshop, any good image editing app will do. We will be using Affinity Photo to walk you through all the steps. If you do use Photoshop the workflow is identical, due to all the tools being very similar.
Although decent, the above photo is far from complete. It is basically an interesting frame - but just a frame nonetheless - for a crucial yet missing subject in the sky. This means that we need to add something to the photo, to hold viewers’ attention. We will be selecting an airplane from another photo and adding it to the initial one.
While this can be done in many different ways and by using a number of different tools - the Selection Brush Tool and the Pen Tool are the first two that come to mind - in this particular case it is considerably easier to replace the patch of sky in our initial photo with a patch of sky including the plane from the second one.
These are the three steps we will need to take:
1) Adding the plane photo onto the initial photo
2) Adjusting size and position of the plane
3) Selecting the part of the plane photo we need and masking the rest
Adding the plane photo to our initial photo
The first thing that needs to be done is to add the plane photo on top of our initial photo. To do this we only need to drag the plane photo from our desktop or folder it resides in and drop it onto our initial photo, which should already be loaded in Affinity Photo. The end result should look like this:
Adjusting size and position
After the plane photo is loaded we can adjust its size and position with the help of the Move Tool. The blue dots around the frame allow us to resize the photo, by clicking them and dragging in or out, whereas the light blue dot slightly above the photo makes it possible to rotate it in either direction. Being able to see the initial photo behind the plane photo makes this step significantly easier. We can do that by reducing the opacity of the layer in the Layers panel to the right. An opacity value of around 50% for the plane photo should be perfect.
Having done that we can now move the layer and adjust the size and position of the plane without any sort of guesswork.
Selecting the part we want to keep and masking the rest
In order to select a part of the plane photo, which is the same size and shape as the patch of sky in our initial photo, we will need to use the Pen Tool. To make it easier to select the edges precisely it’s best to zoom in to the pixel level of the photo.
After all the dots have been connected and we have clicked on the Mask button, to use the selected part as a new mask, we can refine our selection by right clicking on the (Curve) mask and proceeding to refine the mask. Here we can experiment with different parameters such as Border width, Smooth, Feather and Ramp. In this particular case we have reduced the border width to 5% and increased Feather to 0.2px and Ramp to 10% respectively, to make the pasted part appear more authentic.
Now we only need to increase the opacity of the layer back to 100%, confirm the refinement, save the project for future editing and export the photo as a .png or .jpg file and we are done!