Let PhotoShop Remove Unwanted Objects From a Photo... Automatically

Picture this... you're on vacation with your family, traveling abroad. You have the perfect shot of the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China or the amazing Egyptian pyramids, except for one problem... there are too many people in the shot!

At this point, you have 3 options:

  1. You can snap the shot, and be happy with what you have (that's boring)
  2. You can ask everyone to move out of the way (good luck with that one!)
  3. You can use PhotoShop automatically remove the people for you

In my opinion, option 3 is the winner, and fortunately, I have a really cool tip to show you how this works.

Before getting into the tip, let me show you the final product. This is a picture I took of a local freeway (I-15)

It looks like a quiet Sunday morning with no traffic, right? Wrong. In reality, it was at 9:30a on a Tuesday morning, and there were lots of cars on the road. Here's another shot taken at the same time:

PhotoShop has a little-known secret weapon for helping to remove animate objects in a photo (people, animals, etc), and there are 3 steps to using it.

Step 1) Prepare for the Shot

Before taking the shot, you need to mount your camera/phone on a tripod. The shots you will be taking will need to be as close to each other as possible, when it comes to composition. I highly recommend using a tripod similar to the one that I use here:

A tripod like this will cost you about $10-15 on Amazon. Totally worth it, in my opinion. Not just for this tip, but for general use.

Step 2) Taking the Shots

Once you have your camera/phone mounted on the tripod and in position, it's time to take some photos. In order for this to work, you will need to take multiple photos of the same shot. In my case, I took a series of 7 photos of the same thing, about 3 seconds apart from each other. That's enough photos and elapsed time to make sure that cars are placed in different locations in the shot. If you're taking photos of something with people in it, you may want to leave about 10 seconds or so between shots, to give the people enough time to move around.

Step 3) Let PhotoShop do the Rest

Now that you have your series of photos, we will need to open PhotoShop, then go to File > Scripts > Statistics... This will open a new dialog box that looks like this:

You will want to choose "Median" from the "Choose Stack Mode" dropdown menu. Next, click the "Browse..." button to choose al the photos you just took (it's important to select all of them at the same time). Once the photos have been selected, click "OK".

At this point, PhotoShop will open and analyze each photo for differences between the photos. Using this information, it will automatically remove the animate objects (people, animals, etc) and consolidate the images into a single image.

That's it! I recommend trying this out BEFORE heading on your next trip so that you have a good sense for how it works, and what you need to do in order to capture and create the best shot possible.

This is a visual summary of what we just did:

Posted on June 3, 2015 and filed under Design, How To, iPhone, Mac.