There are a few more bells and whistles now (which I'm starting to play around with and decide how relevant they are to how I like to edit my photos) but what I love about this program has remained relatively unchanged. Good.
So if you have an older version of this program, here's a basic step-by-step tut you'll be able to follow no problem.
Here's my BEFORE image:
First things first. The shadows are pretty harsh for this impromptu shot. An initial adjustment of the curves helps me focus on making everything else better.
Then I rotate, resize, and position the new piece.
I use my eraser brush to make it all as seamless as possible. And though I didn't make use of it this time, the smudge tool is often my best friend during this process.
I start out using a broader brush tip, and get it smaller and smaller as I work out finer details.
Then I do some cloning.
I'm very careful not to make the cloned segments too obvious. When a pattern, even an organic one like a tree shadow, is repeated, it draws the eye's attention. And I want all the attention on the little guy in this image.
I also use my lasso tool again to select the exterior edges of the image. I then apply a motion blur, partly because it makes all my retouches more forgivable.
Another 5 minutes correcting the colour and contrast the way I want it...