Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Deception Pass Bridge in Black and White

Last Sunday my bride and I, along with some other family members, went on an hour tour with Deception Pass Tours. We had purchased the tour on Groupon sometime last year and were finally able to redeem the tour last weekend. The tour takes you from Cornet Bay, under the bridge, around Deception Island and then eventually back to Cornet Bay. We all had a wonderful time and it was really awesome to see the bridge from underneath. I have driven over the bridge and seen the surrounding area from the beaches and roads numerous times, but this was the first time I have seen it from on the water - something everyone from this area should take advantage of. On the tour we also saw a bald eagle, several harbor seals and even caught a brief glimpse of a harbor porpoise or two.

Deception Pass Bridge in Black and White

My compact camera was not the ideal camera for the trip to really capture the wildlife, but I was able to capture the shot of the bridge above. I converted the image to black and white with the open source and freely available GIMP.



Monday, June 4, 2012

Resynthesizer samples from GIMP 2.8

As I mentioned in my last post, I had some working samples of the resynthesizer plugin available for the GIMP. The photo was taken in Ocean Shores and should make for a good example of the types of photos that work best to use the resynthesizer plugin to remove specific elements from an image.

First up is the unaltered photo, complete with old copyright text leftover from my full on standalone site days.

Next we have four separate elements cloned out using the resynthesizer plugin: the car, kite, gull and copyright text. The text and kite were simple removals by selecting them with the rectangle select tool and running the plugin. When it comes to the car and gull, each were masked out prior to running the resynthesizer. With my experiments to date, I have found that between 25 and 75 seems to be the magic radius range that produces the best results.

And for fun, since this photo in either form does not comply with some basic composition guidelines, I created a second image with the gull moved.

Hope you have enjoyed seeing what can be accomplished with a little work using open source software.



Saturday, June 2, 2012

Photoshop's Content Aware & Gimp's Resynthesizer Plugin

I still remember when Adobe's Photoshop CS5 was introduced with the then new Content Aware Fill feature and how incredible the new technology looked. Each demo video quickly and seamlessly removed "unwanted" items from a photo effortlessly - a true wow moment for sure. This feature has also previously existed in the form of the resynthesizer plugin for the GIMP image editor prior to the release of Adobe's Photoshop CS5.

Within the last couple of months I have had a chance to play with both, thanks to Adobe opening up Photoshop CS6 to a public beta. Keep in mind that while the demo video's for this technology make it look borderline unbelievable, it does have limits to what it can accomplish - as I found out during my testing of both the Adobe product and the open source version.

Now, lets look at my case study and do some comparing. Picture the following scenario: A student club photo with several rows of students lined up in front of a stage curtain. One of these students did not belong to the club and the question was posed if he could be removed from said photograph. Thankfully for this test, the offending student was at the end of one of the rows and I thought it just might be possible with the resynthesizer plugin for the GIMP (my work copy of CS3 lacks the content aware technology). So, with the resynthesizer plug-in setup on my machine (then with GIMP 2.6) I set out and masked out the photo bomber (as one student dubbed those sneaking into photos they do not belong in) and ran the resynthesizer. After some tweaking, the photo bomber was removed, though not a perfectly seamless removal as we saw in Adobe demo videos. When viewed at full size, you can definitey tell something was done to the photo, though this was less evident on a copy printed on a laser printer.

This scenario did not play out as well using Adobe's Content Aware offerings. The algorithms cloned hair from an adjacent student and did not produce as clean of a clone that I was able to attain with the open source alternative. This is not to say with some tweaking a more acceptable result could not be attained, simply that for this experiment the winner is the free and open source application.

This was definitely not the ideal test for either program, but an interesting case study. Both work much better at patterns that would not be as tight as a stage curtain and need more of the pattern surrounding all sides of the subject to be removed.

If you are interested in experimenting with the GIMP version, you can find the download information for the resynthesizer plug-in here. If you are using GIMP on a Windows system don't fret over the old version that is available, I did my above testing on Windows XP and it works great. You may need to download an updated Heal Selection script from the Gimp Plugin registry and then use the Heal Selection option found under the Filter - Enhance menu. The updated .scm file fixed an error I encountered with the resynthesizer plugin. After I had downloaded and copied this file over I was able to do all the testing referenced above.

I will have a sample photo up I have been working on using the resynthesizer with Gimp 2.8 to follow up soon, stay tuned!