Saturday, September 13, 2008

How to remove the tourists from a photo

So how many times have you taken a great photo of some historic landmark or whatever, and it's crawling with tourists in it? Here's a nice, simple guide to remove those pesky tourists from your shot. A quick note before starting - I will be using Photoshop for this tutorial. There are ways to do it with other programs, such as GIMP, but I won't be covering them in this post.

The first step, of course, is taking the picture. The key here is to take several pictures. You want all the pictures to be similar, also, so use a tripod! The reason you need to use a tripod is so that you can get three pictures in the same exact location.

When you take the three pictures, make sure that you take the pictures at three different times, so that in each picture the tourists have moved. If there was a tourist standing under a tree in shot 1, for example, make sure there is no one in that area for the second shot.

Once you have all the shots and they are uploaded to your computer, open them all in Photoshop. You will then want to copy/paste all the pictures into a single document, as SEPARATE layers. If you change the formatting for any picture when you upload it, make sure you make the same formatting changes for ALL the pictures. You may also need to use the "move" tool in order to adjust the layers and make sure that they all fit properly.

The next step is to make the top layer (pic 3 in this tutorial) invisible by clicking the small 'eye' icon. Create an empty mask on the second layer (pic 2) with the 'mask' button while holding down you option (mac) or alt (PC) button. The mask will go black and your whole layer will be hidden.

The last step is to remove the people from the photo. You will do this with the brush tool. Select the brush tool, and make sure you choose the 'feathered' option. Using white as your forecolor, paint over the layer where the tourists are. As you paint, they will disappear!

You may not be able to remove all the people in the photo, so what you need to do is select the 3rd layer, create an empty mask for it, and brush the remaining people out. Rinse, lather, repeat for as many layers as you have.

You should now have a landscape free of the tourists.

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