An obvious problem with this photo is the large petal sticking straight up in the lower foreground. Another is that that there is a lot of distracting detail in the lower left-hand corner of the picture. Another thing that bothers me a little in this picture is that the lush green background feels brighter and more saturated than the orchids which are the subject of the picture. The picture also feels too dark overall. As we manipulate this image, we will want to correct these problems. We will remove the offending petal, stretch the picture a little to reduce the amount of distracting detail in the lower left, and will alter the colors and brightness of the picture so that your full attention is on the flowers, which will be much brighter than the background, which we want to be somewhat muted.
However, there are elements of the composition of this photograph that I like and want to emphasize in the final image. I like the fact that the main subject of the picture, the orchid on the left, is seen face-on so that we can clearly see its star shape. I also like the orchid on the right, which is some distance behind the other one and somewhat out of focus, but seen in profile. I like the effect of seeing the same flower both in portrait and in profile. Also the lighting on the orchids is beautifully soft and even. We will want to maintain this quality in the final image. I also want to give this image more dreamlike quality, as opposed to its current sharp literal photographic quality. We will do all our manipulations in Photoshop.
The first problem we will tackle is the protruding petal in the lower foreground. We use the rubber stamp tool (also called the clone tool) to get rid of this petal. To do so, select the rubber stamp tool from the toolbar. The rubber stamp tool options palette lets you choose several options for this tool. In this case I selected "normal" as the blending mode. Using this mode, Photoshop will copy pixels from where I pick them up to where I put them down. You pick up pixels by holding down the alt key and clicking on a portion of the image. To put them down, you move the brush to the spot you are working on, and click. There are times when you might want to select a different blending mode, such as "darken" if you are trying to get rid of white specs, for example. The darken mode puts down only pixels that are darker than the ones that were already there. Conversely, the "lighten" mode is good to cover up dark specs in a light background. Choose a soft-edged brush to work with from the brushes palette; this lets the new pixels blend in with the old ones for a more natural look. Choose a brush size that big enough that the job won't take forever, but small enough that you can make the cloning look seamless and natural. It takes some patience, but you can see in Figure 2 that I have successfully gotten rid of the petal, replacing it with color and structure from other parts of the image.
Next we will work on removing some of the distracting detail from the lower left, to simplify the composition. I used the crop tool to crop a bit from the far left-hand side of the image. Then I selected the entire frame by using Select>All, and then used Edit>Tranform>Distort to stretch the picture a bit by pulling the lower left-hand corner down and to the left. I was careful not to stretch so much that the shape of the flowers became distorted, but I did stretch enough that I was able to reduce the amount of the branch visible on the left-hand side.
Then I wanted to lighten the picture, since overall it felt too dark. So I made a duplicate layer by using Layer>Duplicate Layer. I changed the blending mode of the duplicate layer to "screen" and set the opacity to 50%. The "screen" blending mode always lightens the image, and you can use the opacity setting to control how much lighter you make the image. This way of lightening the overall image gives a better result than using Image>Adjust>Curves to do the same thing. Next I flattened the image. You can see the results so far in Figure 2.