When Photoshop is just plain necessary

Our yard is overrun with squirrels. Specifically, they’re Eastern Gray Squirrels – which, according to Wikipedia, are a ” prolific and adaptable species”, not only controlling our backyard but also taking over England and Ireland and wiping out their native red squirrel populations.

Lately, though, we’ve had a new squirrel in town – an American Red Squirrel. Even though its conservation status is “least concern”, it’s a species that was new to me the first time I spotted it about a month ago.  So, over the month of April I kept an eye out for it, and grabbed my camera every time it showed… but it either didn’t stick around long enough for me to get a shot, or it was in an awkward place.

Yesterday, Red finally struck a pose for me on the rail of the back deck. Granted, he had his back end towards the house, but otherwise I had a late-afternoon-sun-drenched full length view. Finally!

Here’s the shot I got, completely unaltered:

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel, before

You don’t have to look all that close to notice that in addition to the squirrel, my camera caught some bird droppings.  Needless to say, they were a distraction and had to be removed.

This, of course, is where Photoshop comes in. There’s no “bird dropping remover” tool (yet), but there are some other nice tools to choose from. For this job, I chose the clone tool, which allows you to selectively replace bits of the photo with similar bits copied from another place in the same image.  Here’s the final result (with a little bit of contrast added):

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel, improved

For you photographers out there: what’s your favorite tool or technique (Photoshop or other app) for removing unwanted stuff?



  1. Nice job cleaning up the poo. And most photographs need some extra contrast coming out of a digital camera…so well done! And I like the crop to rid the photo of that post on the right side. As for my personal “poo removing” tool — Capture NX2 also has a retouch brush for making small things disappear—sensor dirt, stray hair, poo. 🙂 But sometimes I need something that can handle a larger project, then I open up Elements. I tend to not alter too much in a photo (e.g. removing or adding objects), more along the lines of “light housekeeping”.

    • I had to look up Capture NX2 — it must be the Nikon equivalent of Canon’s DPP? … I agree with you on the light housekeeping, not sure I’ll ever be good enough to be a purist!

  2. I used the clone stamp too – works great for removing unsightly power lines. And the healing brush and the spot healing brush work well too.

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