Remove Tourists From Photos In Photoshop – Stack Mode Tutorial

Welcome back to another very exciting tutorial
here at the My name is Jesus Ramirez, and you can find
me on Instagram @JRfromPTC. In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how
to use Photoshop’s Stack Modes to help you remove tourists from your vacation photos. This technique does require you to take multiple
images and a bit of planning, but it is all worth it in the end because the results are
amazing. The Image Stack Mode will take a statistical
average of the content found in all the photos. It will keep identical areas and remove everything
that changes between the different shots. It is very likely that cars and people would
move and change locations, thus they will be removed in the algorithm supplied leaving
only the background. When you’re out taking the photos, make sure
that your camera is on a tripod so that the image is lined up better during the blend. If you do not have a tripod, hold your camera
as steady as possible when shooting your images. Wait about 20 seconds or so in-between each
shot. You want to give people and cars time to move. In most cases, you will only need between
8 to 20 photos. In this tutorial, we’re going to use 9 photos
that I shot with my cell phone without a tripod. For this video, I wanted to use photos that
were not shot under the perfect conditions, so that you could see the power of this technique. And by the way, if you enjoyed this tutorial,
don’t forget to click on that subscribe button and share it with your friends. Okay, let’s get started. The first thing that we’re going to do is
bring in our files into one single document. Each of the files is going to be a layer inside
of that document. And we can use a script to accomplish this
task. I’m going to go into File, Scripts, and select
Load Files into Stack. Then we can select either Files or Folders
to bring into Photoshop as a single document, so I’m going to select Folder, and I’m going
to click on the Browse, then find the folder that contains my files. For me, that folder is here, and it’s called
Stacking. You can download this stacking folder from
my website. If you want to follow along, my website is There’s a link to it right below this video. So select the stacking folder and press OK. Photoshop is going to load 9 different files
onto this list. Make sure that nothing else is selected, then
click OK. So Photoshop creates a new document and each
file gets placed in the Layers panel as a separate layer, so we have 9 different layers,
and the layer name is the file name of the original files. As you can see, there are 9 different images
of the Tribune Building in Oakland, California, and as you saw when I disabled the images,
I was not using a tripod; I was simply standing there holding my cell phone, and I shot 9
photos about 20 seconds apart, which gave enough time for people and cars to move. What I’m going to do now is align these images. If the images are not aligned properly, this
is not going to work. Since we didn’t use a tripod, I’m going to
use Photoshop to align the images. The first step is to select all the images. You can select the images by clicking on the
layer on top, and then, holding Shift and clicking on the layer on the bottom or you
can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl Alt A, that’s Command Option A on the Mac, to select
all the layers. When all the layers are selected, you can
go into Edit, Auto Align Layers and Photoshop will automatically try to align these layers. Simply click on Auto, and then, OK. Notice that Photoshop align the images. If I disable them, they all pretty much align. It’s not going to be a 100% perfect alignment
because I was moving around and there is also a slight change in angle and perspective,
so it won’t be a 100% match. And you can actually see that if I zoom in,
there’s going to be areas that don’t quite match up, but that’s okay. We’re going to crop that out later. So with all the layers selected, they’re still
selected, if they’re not for you, once again, Ctrl Alt A, Command Option A to select them
all. With all the layers selected, I can right
click to the side of any layer and select Convert to a Smart Object. This is going to put all those layers inside
of the smart object. If I double click on it, you can see that
it opens up in a new tab and all my layers are still there. I’m going to close it for now. A smart object simply allows us to apply filters
and transformations non-destructively. And one of the things that we’re going to
apply is a Stack Mode, so with the smart object selected, I’m going to go into Layer, Smart
Objects, Stack Mode, and the stack mode that we’re going to use is Median. This Stack Mode is going to look at all the
pixels on all the images, and the pixels that are constant throughout all or most images
are going to stay, and the pixels that are not constant are going to disappear. Obviously, the background will not move, but
the people and cars will, so the pixels will be different. That means that those pixels will disappear. So watch what happens as soon as I select
Median. All the people and the cars in the background
disappear. If I zoom in, there’s still a car there. That car is parked. Obviously, it didn’t move throughout the different
shots, but the cars driving by and the people did. And as I mentioned earlier, this wasn’t a
100% perfect alignment, so we’re going to have some issues, but we’re going to fix those
towards the end of this tutorial. And there’s actually a faster way to get to
this point and the reason I went the long way was that you saw each of the individual
steps to get here, but there’s a command in Photoshop that does all of this automatically,
and I want to show that to you now. I’m going to go into File, Scripts, Statistics. Then under Use, select Folder, click on Browse
and find the same folder once againóthe stacking folder. Select it, press OK and this is going to look
very familiar. You’re going to see the 9 files there, but
this time, select “Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images.” And under Stack Mode, select Median and press
OK. So Photoshop will automatically open up all
those images into one document as layers, align those layers, and apply the Stack Mode,
all with that one single command. So as you can see, the difference between
the two images is nothing really. And, actually, let me fit this image to screen
and then switch between both images so that you can see they’re exactly the same. So that is the shorter, faster way of doing
it. And, again, I wanted to show you the long
way so that you knew what the steps were in case that the short version gave you some
problems, you know how to backtrack and try to figure it out, but, anyway, this is the
final result. At this point, you can work with either file. I’m just going to close the new file but both
files are the same. So we’re working now with one document. What I want to do now is fix some errors. This is a fantastic script, but the problem
is it doesn’t work great with background elements that are constantly moving, background elements
such as water or flags. If you zoom into the top of the image, you’ll
see this American flag and it doesn’t look very good because it was waving, so when the
stacking mode was applied, it sort of shopped that up as you can see there. There is also a smaller flag here on the bottom
left. So let me show you how you would fix an issue
like this. I’m going to zoom out and I’m just going to
pan a little bit. Then, I’m going to double-click on the smart
object. You can tell this is a smart object by looking
at the bottom right of the thumbnail. Double click on that. It opens up a new tab and inside of this new
tab, you’ll see the 9 different files that created that image, and if I disable them,
I can go through all of them and see which one has the best-looking American flag. I like the flag in the 02.jpg layer. I think it’s the best one in this image, so
I’m going to zoom in, click on the Lasso Tool, and then click and drag around the flag to
make a selection. With Layer no.2 selected, press Ctrl C, that’s
Command C on the Mac, then go back into the working document and press Ctrl Shift V, that’s
Command Shift V on the Mac, to paste in place, and there’s the flag; so this is before and
after. And you can, of course, do the same thing
for the smaller flag. I’m not going to do that to save a little
bit of time, but it’s exactly the same process. What I’m going to do now is just look at the
entire image just so we can see what we have. And, obviously, we still need to crop it,
but what I’m going to do before I crop it is adjust the colors found on the image and
I want to apply non-destructive effects, and maybe even fix some of the distortion problems. The distortion problems are not very big,
but we could benefit from fixing them. So what I’m going to do is select all the
layers. In this case, we only have two layers, I’m
going to press Ctrl Alt A, Command Option A on the Mac, to select the layers, I’m going
to right-click to the side of those layers and convert these two layersóthe regular
layer and the smart objectóinto another smart object, so Convert to Smart Object. Now I can apply the Camera Raw Filter non-destructively,
so Camera Raw Filter, and I’m going to use the tonal sliders to adjust this image. I’m going to click on Highlights and make
the highlight darker, then click on Shadows and make those brighter. I’m sort of faking an HDR effect here. Then I’m going to click on Clarity and drag
it to the right. This is going to add contrast in the midtones. Then I’m going to click on Vibrance and drag
that to the right as well. This is going to add saturation to the colors
found in the image that don’t have a lot of saturation. It’s sort of a smart way of saturating images. Saturation applies a global saturation no
matter what the current saturation of the colors are, but vibrance protects the saturated
color and only brings out the color and colors that are desaturated. Also, when you’re working on portraits, vibrance
protects skin tones, so it’s one of my favorite sliders to use to add saturation to images. Now we’re going to fix some of those distortion
problems that I was talking about so you can click on this icon here, which is the Transform
Tool. You can also press Shift T, and under Upright,
you can click on the A button to apply an Auto balanced perspective correction; so you
can see the before and the after. It’s a slight correction, but I think it works. Usually, distortions like these are more noticeable
when you’re working with straight lines and, obviously, in this image, we have a lot of
straight lines. I’m going to press OK, and these are the smart
filters here. You can see the Camera Raw Filter that we
applied. You can click on this eye icon to disable
the effect and click on the empty space again to enable it. The final step is to crop the image, so I’m
going to click on the Crop Tool. You can also press C on the keyboard and make
sure that “Delete Cropped Pixels” is unchecked. Usually, I don’t like leaving this check box
on just because I like to work non-destructively, so I’m going to click and drag on these handles
to better crop the image and hide some of the errors here where the image wasn’t aligning
properly. And I think something like this will work
so I’m just going to press Enter on the keyboard, and that’s our final image. That’s it for this tutorial. I hope that you enjoyed it and that you learned
something new. Make sure that you leave all your comments
or questions down below. If you create an image using this tutorial
or any other of my tutorials, feel free to share it on Instagram with the hashtag #ptcvids. I often do a search for this hashtag to see
what you’re all up to. If I find your image, I will leave you a comment. Also, don’t forget to subscribe and click
on that Like button. If you have a friend who you think will enjoy
this tutorial, please share this link with them now. Thank you for watching, and I’ll talk to you
again soon.

96 thoughts on “Remove Tourists From Photos In Photoshop – Stack Mode Tutorial

  1. i didn't learn something i learnt a lot of things….thank you for an awesome and very useful tutorial, you're a very good instructor:)

  2. cool thank you!
    i totally forgot about this and you remainded me.
    what i didn't know was about the copying from one layer and pasting it and get it in in the right position. i mean what you did with the flag was awesome and new for me!
    thank you very much!
    Greetings from Chicago!

  3. Great tutorial! I especially enjoy your presentation with zooming to the relevant controls and the red under- or out-lining animations–it all works to impart the lesson very clearly.

  4. Fantastic tutorial.  I've been looking for a way to remove people from a town scene and this is the perfect way of achieving it.  Thanks for sharing.

  5. I knew that one for a while… but honestly It never really worked for me. Probably because the places i really wanted to use it on were alot more busy. I did see that i took enough shot to have every square meter in the image empty at one time or another. But I think if any given place is empty only in a few shots. E.g. one tourists leaves another comes in etc. It fails.
    So in other words… helpful for a few tourists but not really for a tourist hotspots. At least I havent had any luck with stack modes… came closer with manually masking it.
    But of cause that is just the technique. You presentation was great as always.

  6. Thank you for a very useful tutorial. I couldn't get perfect result, but I guess that having only three photos of the same place were not enough, I will definitely go back to the place I liked and try to improve the result. Thank you!

  7. I downloaded the files. When I pressed shift+command+v the flag was not pasted but I added a vector smart object. What gives?

  8. Thank you for this great tutorial.
    I did another appraoch to achieve the same.
    Where can I post my result?
    Best regards

  9. Wow!!! That was awesome!
    One question though。
    Instead of cropping errors out, can u bring one of the image in and use masking to fix the errors? Or use the copy and paste method you showed us here

  10. Thanks for tutorial. I like using stack mode.
    There is one more trick with this mode.
    If you need make picture in a night but don't have tripod
    use highest ISO and make series of pictures with high speed shutter.
    Then by using stack mode kill noise ))

  11. wow i just found this video and your channel, this is so cool and useful for me! and i have a funny feeling that i'll find heaps of value in your other videos too! gonna be checking them out. thank you!

  12. That was like a magic wand .. I feel angry on those 3 idiots who gave a thumbs down.
    Thank you for a wonderful tutorial.

  13. The picture you cropped at the end and the final pic are not the same (check the flag you talked about).
    Anyway it is a good tutorial! Thank you!

  14. why doesnt my stack mode appear? i see it in the dropdown tab but it doesnt highlight itself so i am unable to click it

  15. Great tutorial. But I can´t find Scripts/Statistics in my Photoshop CS6 for PC and can´t find the Camera Raw filter too.

  16. This is a great tutorial. I'm currently at Photoshop World 2017 Orlando, and I heard about this technique, and I couldn't wait to search for a video that showed more about the technique. Thanks Otis

  17. I couldn't do this step "Apply The Median Stack Mode To The Smart Object", when i go to the layer option and to smart object, the stack mode option is available but i can't click on it.I made sure that the smart object i made is selected.Please help me!!!

  18. Hi Jesus, This tutorial taught me so much. Linking this tutorial with your recent 'button mode action' tutorial, would it be feasible to create an action for the statistics method? I think not, as there will need to be a pause for selecting the images? Keep up the fantastic work. Mark

  19. how do i add myself on the picture? do i take one or 2 pictures on the same place with me on it and then copy myself on the picture with no one on ???

  20. Question: Would it be better to edit RAW files in LR before stacking? Or is it the same quality as the process that you showed in this vid? I ask because I haven't done this kind of edit before and if you could shed light on the learning curve, it would be great 🙂

  21. Thanks – I have seem a couple of tutorials using 'mean' as stacking mode, now I understand why 'median' has the potential of making a cleaner image 🙂

  22. Guys, I remember seeing this stack feature, on a smartphone, that promised to "eliminate crowds" in photos of tourists attractions, but I don't remember which phone it was, do any of you know which phone was that?
    PS.: I remember it was like 1-2 years ago, and the test was made in the Athens Acropolis, or a place similar.

  23. How did the NYC sign appeared & the Bridge looked perfect when you removed the tourists & the bus from blocking the background of the photo?

  24. Useful. But you only need refer to COPY and PASTE as most people know their own keyboard short cuts. It's too painful to listen to the verbose explanations of PC v MAC especially when you are saying it many times.

  25. Why this method not work with only 2 photos:
    I want to remove green line!
    Exists another method for my work?

  26. I have no idea how to use PS but your tutorial i very helpful. How ever,i hate short keys and you just did that at the at the end of the video WITH MAC which i dont have. I dont know if it is the same in PC,but anyway i will try this out. Thank for the effort!!!

  27. Imagine taking 100 photos from a tripod in Times Square and then using this technique – boom – you've got the creepiest photo of Times Square with no people in the middle of the day..

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