Cable Cutter


A white cable passes in front of badly weathered shutters.
Shutters and White Cable. Pyrgos, Santorini, Greece.

I loved these badly weathered window shutters and the crumbling concrete around them, but short of trespassing or serious vandalism there was absolutely no way to get this white cable out of the picture. I took the photo anyway in the hopes that I could ”redeem it in post” (i.e., post-processing).

Unfortunately, I gave little thought at the time to exactly how I was going to do that. What I should have done was take a second picture from about two inches lower. In that second photo I would be able to see exactly what was behind that cable in the image above. Then I could have perspective-warped the second image to exactly overlay the first image and used a little careful masking in Affinity Photo (the tool I prefer over Adobe Photoshop) to magically reveal what is actually behind that pesky cable.

As you can guess, I didn’t do that. I left the scene with just the one picture above. So, I had to do it the hard way, which involved a lot of cloning and copying and mirroring and tweaking of shutters from one place to cover up the cable in another place. And it wasn’t just the shutters themselves, I also had to use the upper right hinge to help repair the upper left hinge. The final little bit of agony involved dealing with the knot in the wood below the far right hinge; if you look carefully you can see that the cable passes directly over the center of the knot. I considered just removing the knot altogether, but in the end I made it work. Final touches involved cloning around little bits of paint and rust and wood just to make sure there was no pattern to betray my subterfuge, which seems silly since I am freely writing about it here.

You might think that content-aware fill would have done the job, but while using content-aware fill to eliminate power lines isn’t generally too difficult, this cable was so thick relative to the height of the image and crossed the slats at such a shallow angle that content-aware fill just didn’t work. (I do think that I was able to use it some, however, where the cable crossed the vertical stiles of the shutters.)

In the end, I think this took me about three hours. I am not very fast at using Affinity Photo, but if I had taken that second photo I am sure I could have pulled it off in 30 minutes. Lesson learned for next time. My eventual success was more do to stubbornness than anything else, but I think the end result was worth it.

Blue shutters with peeling paint and rusty hinges are set into a wall with cracking concrete.
Shutters and White Snail. Badly weathered shutters seal a window in Pyrgos, Santorini, Greece.

Technical notes. The photograph in this post was taken with a Nikon Z7 using a Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S lens. It was processed from RAW in Adobe Lightroom Classic; the bottom (final) version received additional processing using Affinity Photo.

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