How to Remove People From Complicated Images Automatically Using Photoshop

Beautiful places are of course something many of us want to photograph, but the problem is often that there are constantly people in the shot at such locations. This helpful tutorial will show you how to remove people from complicated images automatically using Photoshop.

Coming to you from Jesús Ramirez of the Photoshop Training Channel, this helpful video will introduce you to median stacking in Photoshop. The first thing to note is that this technique relies on multiple images of the same subject/location, so be sure to bring along a tripod and try to get a lot of images taken at well-spaced time intervals (this way, if a person is standing in the same spot, they're more likely to move out of the way eventually). The median stack mode does exactly what it sounds like: it looks at each value of the RGB triplet for each pixel across all the frames, then assigns the value that represents the median (middle number) of all the values at that spot. In other words, anomalous values (such as a dark shadow from a person standing in the way in a single frame) tend to get filtered out, and the more permanent aspects of an image (such as the sidewalk or a monument) get brought through. It's a very powerful technique, and with just a little work, it can make an otherwise very complicated cloning/masking job easy as pie. Give it a try! 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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i watched this video a few times including last night. cant wait to try it out!

Works great. I’ve been doing this for years. I think I learned it from a Martin Evening book

I knew about the stacks but I had no idea about the blending modes use for the healing tool. That was awesome, thank you a lot

I use it often too, but I learned one or two small new things. I just wish it could work in real life ! :-)

who has become successful handheld?

I did ! Plan a bit larger than the final frame. Then try to be as stable as possible. And in Photoshop, you can easily align the layers.

To me the bigger story is that PS is finally easily automating stacking. Until now, I've been using Affinity for stacking purposes which has worked very well, too. Nice to know of this option.

Separately, I was trying to get a shot of the florescent holiday tree at the Oculus last year. I think I could have taken a shot every 10 seconds for the entire day and still not emerged with a clean shot. Same for the angels at Rockefeller Center during the holidays. So for me this has better applications for, say, a business that needs a clean shot of its exterior in the middle of the day, or a moderately trafficked tourist site such as the example shown here.