How to remove “tourists” in Photoshop

When I photograph a popular destination, I try so hard not to get frustrated.  Excuse me ma’am, would you mind waiting just one second while I finish this shot?  I get it, you want to enjoy the same beautiful place as me.  Hey buddy, you’re wrecking my shot!  Can’t we just all get along?  #$*% !!!!!!!

You know the drill.  You work really hard to find a sweet angle, wake up at some insane hour or skip dinner to catch the light, and someone comes along and messes with your shot.  Or maybe you’re trying to shoot the Louvre and the whole area is crawling with tourists.  When you don’t have the patience or opportunity, there is still hope.  Photoshop has an awesome tool that helps you get rid of tourists, pedestrians, animals…. basically anything that moves.  All you need to do is take multiple photos of the same scene and use the “median” stack mode and Smart Objects in Photoshop using the following steps:

  • Take multiple photos (ideally on a tripod with a remote release, to eliminate the need for alignment).  The majority of the images should be free of moving objects in a given area of the image in order for Photoshop to be able to rebuild the scene without people, etc.
  • Load the photos as layers in Photoshop
  • Use auto-align if necessary.
  • Convert the layers to a Smart Object
  • Set the Smart Object’s stack mode to “median”.  This will get rid of the moving objects
  • Use the clone/healing tools or blend in portions of the original image if needed to correct any artifacts (such as areas with a poor blend or parts of the image with moving objects you wish to keep).

I demonstrate the whole workflow in this video:


Greg Benz Photography