Quick and Easy Tourist Removal in Photoshop - Digital Photography School

Quick and Easy Tourist Removal in Photoshop

Being a tourist would be more fun if there weren’t thousands of other tourists getting between you and the shot you want to capture.

before_after.jpg

When you are visiting a popular location and if you have difficulty getting a photo that is free of people, take two (or more) photos making sure that somewhere in each you have a good clean portion of the sight you are interested in photographing.

On your return you can assemble the images in Photoshop and create one good, tourist free image.

Here’s how to do this with two images. This process relies on a feature called Auto-Align Layers which was first introduced in Photoshop CS3. If you have an earlier version of Photoshop you can manually align the layers but Photoshop won’t do it automatically for you as shown here.

Step 1

Open both images in Photoshop and drag the background layer from one into the other image so you have two different layers in one image. This will be your working image – you can close the other one as you no longer need it.

step1.jpg

Step 2

Select both layers in the Layers palette by clicking on one and then Shift + Click on the second. Choose Edit > Auto-Align Layers, click Auto and click Ok.

step2.jpg

This feature automatically aligns the layers relative to each other. (You may not have noticed this tool before – it’s on the Edit menu when logic would suggest it should be on the Layers menu.).

Step 3

Select the topmost layer in the image and add a mask to it by selecting the Add Layer Mask icon at the foot of the layers palette.

step3.jpg

Step 4

Set black as the foreground color, select a round soft edge brush and click on the mask icon in the layers palette so it is selected.

step4.jpg

Step 5

Paint over the person or other thing in the top layer that you want to remove. Painting in black on a mask reveals the layer underneath so you should see the image underneath through this one. (If you need to paint back in some of the image, switch to white foreground color and paint on the mask in white).

step5.jpg

Step 6

When you’re done you can merge the layers (Layers > Merge Visible). If you still have other tourists to remove, return to step 1 and continue with another of the images you captured.

If you are done, crop the image and apply any required fixes to the image before saving it.

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Helen Bradley is a Lifestyle journalist who divides her time between the real and digital worlds, picking the best from both. She writes and produces video instruction for Photoshop and digital photography for magazines and online providers world wide. She has also written four books on photo crafts and blogs at Projectwoman.com.

  • Dave

    Thanks for this method. I’ve always used the clone stamp tool to do this. You set the target point on the image without the tourist, then clone it to the image with the tourist. The problem with the clone method is that you have to clone to exactly the same spot on the “good” image, or it will look out of alignment.

  • Just Jen

    Wow! That’s really cool! So much easier then cloning!!

  • http://sjlarueslenses.blogspot.com/ Steve Jones

    Another thing to add to the mix,

    If you have CS3 Extended or greater you can use an Image Stack, a.k.a. Statistics (why they cal it that I haven’t a clue) to do the same thing only better…in the image above it should also be able to remove the other two pesky tourist behind the fern.

    Here is a tutorial from Mark Johnson describing it better than Adobe did.: http://www.msjphotography.com/index.php/2008/09/photoshop-workbench-144-removing-undesirable-subjects/

  • http://feekner.blogspot.com feekner

    What a great idea! I’ve always just use the clone stamp tool and have had mixed results depending on where the object is that I want to remove. Now I just have to remember to take a couple pics instead of just the one. thanks for the tip!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/poisonberry scott e. detweiler

    You can do this a lot easier with image stack Helen.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/hlkljgk/sets/ Heather Katsoulis

    or you can use tourist remover: http://www.snapmania.com/info/en/trm/

  • http://cameraguyzack.blogspot.com/ Zack Jones

    Can you do this with PhotoShop Elements 7?

  • Reznor

    Wow, never heard of this stacking method. That’s amazing. I always used the method, Helen shows here. I bet for a lot of situations, the stacking won’t do and Helen’s solution is the one to go but if there are no overlapping subjects in the frames, this median stacking seems to be the easiest way.

  • http://sjlarueslenses.blogspot.com/ Steve Jones

    I will say that with the image stack method, the more pictures you have the better. I use it first, but for some reason, sometimes there is ghosting when I don’t have enough pictures. So then I go back to the clone tool. Or one of the other blend tools.

  • Imaani

    Zack in Elements 7, you have the Scene Cleaner which does the same at the click of a single button!

  • http://giovannidcunha.wordpress.com Giovanni

    Can you do this in Photoshop CS2 using some plugin? Or do I have to upgrade to CS3? This technique would also he helpful to stitch images into a panorama (which is my hobby!)

  • http://www.ericsbinaryworld.com Eric Mesa

    I have CS2 and my first thought was that you’d need to use a tripod. Those programmers at Adobe deserve every penny.

  • John Nuttal

    I’ll meger image for year to get a wider shoot. Great idea. I’ll start practicing this today

  • http://saanva.multiply.com/ Salvacion (Saanva in the forum)

    This is a great tip! Thank you very much for sharing!

  • Keith

    Another article detailing this technique using earlier versions of Photoshop can be found at http://dsphotographic.com/articles/how-to-remove-tourists-from-your-photos/ . I suspect that the technique can be adapted to any editor capable of using layers and with the facility to move layers in relation to each other. This may be called “align” as in Photoshop or “Move ” as in Paintshop Pro. Could have other names in other editors. I intend to experiment with Paintshop Pro.

  • Lucinda

    Thats really great !! but how do i do that in PaintShop Pro Photo X2?

  • http://www.loonlakerv.com/ oregon coast rv campgrounds

    That’s a very good trick, you have shared about here. The people in the frame has always been a problem that didn’t have any solution for a long time. This is something the will ensure that we can have the photos to ourself and have the perfect collection of all the places. Thanks for sharing such a good piece of information about editing the pictures.

  • http://www.eugene-springfield.com Eugene Springfield

    That is such a great tip. As much as I’ve worked in photoshop, it just never occured to me to remove tourists this way. I would think you could just use the erase tool on the top layer too, but maybe it leaves a less desirable affect in some way. Look forward to more great tips!

  • Didi

    Damn, it works …..:-D

  • veyn

    Hi I have elements 7 and I’ve tried the above “photomerge scene cleaner” but it doesn’t let me do anything. It says i need to select two or more photos from my photo bin when all I’m trying to do is get rid of tourists from one photo!! I’m really new to photography and editing so still trying to work everything out. Help please!!!

  • http://www.keithduncan.photosale.co.nz Keith

    Hi veyn – take a look at this video on you-tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfvAyT7Bc_k

  • synapse

    Great tutorial, but for beginners I want to recommend for removing tourist from photos using photo retouching software Inpaint

    The new Multi View Inpaint feature works with multiple pictures from the same view, and combines the shots to eliminate all distractions. No tripod!, no complicated settings, no need to worry about slight movements by the camera or even shaking hands.

  • http://canon-mcmillan.patch.com/users/BrandieSellner525 Juli

    With havin so much content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright
    violation? My website has a lot of unique content I’ve either authored myself or outsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my permission. Do you know any techniques to help protect against content from being stolen? I’d really appreciate it.

Some older comments

  • Juli

    May 24, 2013 01:20 pm

    With havin so much content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright
    violation? My website has a lot of unique content I've either authored myself or outsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my permission. Do you know any techniques to help protect against content from being stolen? I'd really appreciate it.

  • synapse

    May 7, 2012 06:33 am

    Great tutorial, but for beginners I want to recommend for removing tourist from photos using photo retouching software Inpaint

    The new Multi View Inpaint feature works with multiple pictures from the same view, and combines the shots to eliminate all distractions. No tripod!, no complicated settings, no need to worry about slight movements by the camera or even shaking hands.

  • Keith

    June 20, 2011 05:47 am

    Hi veyn - take a look at this video on you-tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfvAyT7Bc_k

  • veyn

    June 18, 2011 09:59 pm

    Hi I have elements 7 and I've tried the above "photomerge scene cleaner" but it doesn't let me do anything. It says i need to select two or more photos from my photo bin when all I'm trying to do is get rid of tourists from one photo!! I'm really new to photography and editing so still trying to work everything out. Help please!!!

  • Didi

    August 10, 2010 05:29 pm

    Damn, it works .....:-D

  • Eugene Springfield

    July 9, 2010 05:38 am

    That is such a great tip. As much as I've worked in photoshop, it just never occured to me to remove tourists this way. I would think you could just use the erase tool on the top layer too, but maybe it leaves a less desirable affect in some way. Look forward to more great tips!

  • oregon coast rv campgrounds

    May 31, 2010 05:34 pm

    That's a very good trick, you have shared about here. The people in the frame has always been a problem that didn't have any solution for a long time. This is something the will ensure that we can have the photos to ourself and have the perfect collection of all the places. Thanks for sharing such a good piece of information about editing the pictures.

  • Lucinda

    September 29, 2009 12:07 am

    Thats really great !! but how do i do that in PaintShop Pro Photo X2?

  • Keith

    September 21, 2009 06:36 am

    Another article detailing this technique using earlier versions of Photoshop can be found at http://dsphotographic.com/articles/how-to-remove-tourists-from-your-photos/ . I suspect that the technique can be adapted to any editor capable of using layers and with the facility to move layers in relation to each other. This may be called "align" as in Photoshop or "Move " as in Paintshop Pro. Could have other names in other editors. I intend to experiment with Paintshop Pro.

  • Salvacion (Saanva in the forum)

    September 18, 2009 07:41 am

    This is a great tip! Thank you very much for sharing!

  • John Nuttal

    September 18, 2009 07:36 am

    I'll meger image for year to get a wider shoot. Great idea. I'll start practicing this today

  • Eric Mesa

    September 17, 2009 10:46 pm

    I have CS2 and my first thought was that you'd need to use a tripod. Those programmers at Adobe deserve every penny.

  • Giovanni

    September 17, 2009 04:16 pm

    Can you do this in Photoshop CS2 using some plugin? Or do I have to upgrade to CS3? This technique would also he helpful to stitch images into a panorama (which is my hobby!)

  • Imaani

    September 17, 2009 03:12 am

    Zack in Elements 7, you have the Scene Cleaner which does the same at the click of a single button!

  • Steve Jones

    September 17, 2009 03:05 am

    I will say that with the image stack method, the more pictures you have the better. I use it first, but for some reason, sometimes there is ghosting when I don't have enough pictures. So then I go back to the clone tool. Or one of the other blend tools.

  • Reznor

    September 17, 2009 02:45 am

    Wow, never heard of this stacking method. That's amazing. I always used the method, Helen shows here. I bet for a lot of situations, the stacking won't do and Helen's solution is the one to go but if there are no overlapping subjects in the frames, this median stacking seems to be the easiest way.

  • Zack Jones

    September 17, 2009 01:59 am

    Can you do this with PhotoShop Elements 7?

  • Heather Katsoulis

    September 16, 2009 11:55 am

    or you can use tourist remover: http://www.snapmania.com/info/en/trm/

  • scott e. detweiler

    September 16, 2009 09:54 am

    You can do this a lot easier with image stack Helen.

  • feekner

    September 16, 2009 06:49 am

    What a great idea! I've always just use the clone stamp tool and have had mixed results depending on where the object is that I want to remove. Now I just have to remember to take a couple pics instead of just the one. thanks for the tip!

  • Steve Jones

    September 16, 2009 02:16 am

    Another thing to add to the mix,

    If you have CS3 Extended or greater you can use an Image Stack, a.k.a. Statistics (why they cal it that I haven't a clue) to do the same thing only better...in the image above it should also be able to remove the other two pesky tourist behind the fern.

    Here is a tutorial from Mark Johnson describing it better than Adobe did.: http://www.msjphotography.com/index.php/2008/09/photoshop-workbench-144-removing-undesirable-subjects/

  • Just Jen

    September 16, 2009 01:44 am

    Wow! That's really cool! So much easier then cloning!!

  • Dave

    September 16, 2009 01:14 am

    Thanks for this method. I've always used the clone stamp tool to do this. You set the target point on the image without the tourist, then clone it to the image with the tourist. The problem with the clone method is that you have to clone to exactly the same spot on the "good" image, or it will look out of alignment.

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