Learn How to Easily Remove Human Traffic from Your Photos

Have you ever wanted to photograph a location only to have a constant stream of people coming and going?  Trying to capture the the front of a busy building can be truly frustrating. Lucky for you Greg Benz knows your pain and he has a quick and easy solution to help you get the shot you've been waiting for.

Learn how to remove tourists and other moving distractions from any photo in Photoshop easily in this quick tutorial.


Key segments:
0:00 Intro & Lightroom setup
2:11 Sending the images to Photoshop as layers
3:35 Make Smart Object and set to "median" to get rid of moving objects
5:00 Clone/heal to fix artifact
6:19 Blending in original image to keep a moving object

Since Greg posted his video, comment contributor Andy Astbury offered up 

You can find Greg's full posts and more excellent photography tips on here.

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12 Comments

Joe Watson's picture

I'd like to think I'm pretty efficient when it comes to Photoshop but I'm so lazy when it comes to remembering keys, auto aligning laters etc.... This is a good reminder to stop being a jabroni!

JK Chekpo's picture

Very useful, Thanks!

The first major photo manipulation I ever did was removing several people from the front of a church, back in 1999. It took me 3 days...

Greg Benz's picture

Thanks for sharing that Kenn, I was wondering where all the YouTube traffic was coming from today! For anyone interested in more such Photoshop tutorials, I have several posted on my blog here: http://gregbenzphotography.com/photography-tips/

Kenn Tam's picture

No thank you Greg. It's so great when people in the insdustry share knowledge with their peers. Back in the day us shooters didn't share shit. Now look at us. We are a thriving community that supports, educates and inspires. I'll be keeping an eye on your channel stream. In the mean time I update the post with a link directing people to your main tips page and you should always feel free to send your latest content to me at shoot@kenntam.com. No guarantee I'll get around to posting it but I try to make time for the extra helpful, cool, funny and inspiring stuff. :)

Greg Benz's picture

Absolutely, I love that about the photography community. There is so much good collaboration, and the best work these days blows away most of what you could find a few years ago! Everyone is supporting each other to step up their game.

Although this is handy, I find having people in photos adds a human element and gives scale to the architecture. I prefer a blurry person to none at all. Empty photos are too stark for me - they need movement. Just my 2 cents...

Thanks for the tutorial. This technique might be useful in rare cases, but for this particular image it was a total waste of time. You could have hand-blended frames 2 and 4 in about 10 seconds and gotten the same (actually, better) results. Sometimes the median blend mode is useful to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time, but you will always need to pixel-peep for artifacts and it may end up taking more time than just doing a hand-blend. AND with this technique you've lowered the integrity of the image by having to use heal tool.

Last year I was at the NY Met photographing the Temple of Dendur exhibit where there is never a silent moment. I wanted to get a final image with (preferably) no people in it, and ended up with about a hundred frames. Even in this case, "median" wouldn't work because there was really no such thing as a median value for any one pixel. 9 out of 10 shots, any given space would be taken up by a person, so no automation would have known which 1 out of 10 pixel I was looking for.

If you're looking for a quick solution for snapshot purposes, use median. Otherwise, there's no replacement for just knuckling down and doing it manually.

Chris Ingram's picture

Not sure what your options were in this case, but I've shot similar scenes by using a slower shutter speed (10sec or more) and people walking through the scene are no longer visible. If you get really unlucky and people stop to talk, then they 'burn' into the scene, but can usually be avoided. In this scene you'd probably have to shoot one exposure to capture the sculpture without movement though.

Ryan Barnes's picture

This would have been much easier using File>Scripts>statistics.

Pete Mayes's picture

Is it possible to do the opposite? ie, put all the people in the final image?

Brian Dowling's picture

I'm normally not that guy, but it is pronounced "Er-Mez". You don't want to have a "Pretty Woman" moment. :D