Reflections are normally a very nice thing to have in a picture. They can add quite a bit of visual interest to an image with colors, textures and shapes. But, you do not always want a reflection. For example, I was the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford taking some pictures and I want a very close up detail shot of some engravings on a musical instrument. The problem was that while I could shoot the instrument with my G11, it was encased in glass and the ambient light made for horrible reflections and I could not find any position to get rid of them.
You can see the reflections in the image below. This is the unaltered image straight from the G11
So now I have image loaded into Lightroom and I’m really wondering what I can do about the reflections. I’m looking at the image and it dawns on me that I might be able to “paint” the reflections out by using a couple of techniques. I mean, the reflections really do not lose the subject underneath, they have just “faded” it a bit.
With that thought in mind, I first applied a graduated filter to the right side to bring down the exposure a bit. I started at the lower right corner and went at roughly a 45 degree angle. I flipped the image to B/W by a simple desaturation of the colors. I brought up the black point a bit overall and also brought the whites.
Things were looking better but not perfect yet. So into Photoshop we go from Lightroom. Once in CS4, I added an exposure layer and darkened up the gamma a touch. This brought the transparent blacks from the reflection more in line with the normal blacks in the rest of the image. I put a layer mask on it and used my Wacom to brush out the adjustment on the whites leaving the blacks nice and dark. As a final enhancement, I applied a high pass filter to the image and put the opacity at 70%,
The results of all this mucking around is shown below. No reflections, nice clean whites and the details of the engravings are easily seen.
I now have my reflectionless picture with the clear detail I wanted. The best part is that even just feeling my way around only took about 30 minutes to clean up this image. Next time it will go faster since I already have a good set of steps to draw from.
Some of you will be saying that I did not keep the color, yes, you are correct. The original art is black and white so I did not “need” color, I needed black and white. This trick will be somewhat selective in how you can use but the basic idea transfer even if the image really is in color.