There are many ways to approach somsthing like this, Here is a variation on Rich 54 process
1. Duplicate the base layer (CTRL+J) Click on the eye on the bottom layer and make it invisible.
2. Image/Canvas Size (anything larger will do …say 6x8).
3. Magic Wand w/ contiguous and 3x3 average...
I approached this somewhat differently,.
I added plywood to the bottom of the vertical piece. and that made the highlighted gap on the horizonal plywood narrower. Correct or not , blending the two vertical pieces was tricky and fun:)
As bizarre as it might sound, I dreamt last night that I had made as aesthetic mistake on this. It was something I was going to do while creating it but forgot. It might not make any difference to the OP but here is my corrected vision. Note the C now mirrors the 3.
I'm not from the Associated Press and their stringent guidelines don't apply to me. I'm crafting an image, not delivering news so I have no compunctions about doctoring up a photograph to make it ,what I consider better. You may feel differently. At any rate this is my take on a great image.