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Smoothing out a photo?

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I'm not even sure if I'll be able to describe this adequately, but I remember watching a friend of mine mess around with a photo, smoothing it out and (essentially) removing the the flaws (that makes me sound so vain, doesn't it?). It wasn't blurring the photo in any way, nor was it messing with the lighting. What is this function and how is it used?

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Many image manipulation programs call their "surface blur" or "median blur" the "retouch" button. Try one of those. :-)


The Doctor: There was a goblin, or a trickster, or a warrior... A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the cosmos. And nothing could stop it, or hold it, or reason with it. One day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world.
Amy: But how did it end up in there?
The Doctor: You know fairy tales. A good wizard tricked it.
River Song: I hate good wizards in fairy tales; they always turn out to be him.

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