In photography sometimes you just have to do some cleaning too. Sometimes there are things going on the background you don't like. And so long you're not working as a photo journalist, you can manipulate (clean) your images.
Let's start with this picture: I like the way the athlete is portrayed, but the guy in the yellow jacket draws too much attention in this picture.
One option is to de-saturate the yellows and the orange. But if you ask me, that doesn't do much to improve the picture.
So here is what I did: I used the brushtool to paint over the guy. To make the yellow-clad guy dissappear into the road. To get the right colour, I used the eyedropper tool: sample the colour and use that colour as your brush colour. With the clone stamp tool and the spot healing brush tool I added more bushes and part of the typical Amsterdam houses.
Voila! Gone is the yellow and orange distraction in the picture!
OK, so I also added some more colour into the figure with a hue and saturation layer. With a mask I desaturated the background. The result is a clean picture if you ask me. The focus is on the athlete, as it should be.
Right. Let's take another example. I took this picture during a MTB race in the south of Holland. Again, it's the people in the background that are a distraction. So I decided to clean them out of my picture.
First step was using the patch tool to get rid of the woman in the white jacket. The guys in the middle and to the left side of the image were removed with the spot healing brush tool in combination with the stamp tool.
And here you have the result:
Again it's a cleaner image, with focus on the athlete. Then again: spectators are part of a sporting event, so it's definately not the case that they should always be removed from an image to have a clean image. You just have to decide for yourself where and when to clean up.
This final image is an example of shooting with an aperture of 2.8 or 4.0 so the background becomes blurred and the athlete is very much in focus.
Have fun cleaning!