The Trouble With Comp Stompers and How to Remove Them

The Trouble With Comp Stompers and How to Remove Them

There are many times when you have gone to a location to shoot a landscape and you have not been the only one there. That is fine as everyone is entitled to be there. Every now and again however you have the type of photographer who thinks that they are entitled and who blatantly either stands right next to you to get the same composition without any acknowledgment or a courteous "would you mind if I..."

Even worse still are the types of photographers who move in front of you, blocking the composition you have just set up. Now, these are the worst type, the lowest of the low. Never fear though, Photoshop to the rescue, and in particular these 3 Photoshop books. Tried and tested but with a caveat, which I'll reveal.

Let's Set the Scene

The background is an ethereal misty landscape. It is simply stunning. This image will be subtly edited to bring out the greens of the trees and darken the shadows to provide balance throughout the scene. The ambient mistiness will be balanced by decreasing the dehaze, with only slight tweaks to contrast and color balance. The waterfall is flowing just nicely, not too much. Everything is looking great. You've set up your composition with the perfect aperture, perfect exposure, everything perfect at that moment in time, and then in wanders another photographer, ruining your photo, it is so frustrating and inconsiderate.

Never fear for there are 3 Photoshop books in existence that will help you remove those fools.

How to Remove People From Images Using Photoshop

Photoshop does not rely on the pre-baked fix which is to simply say "Apply Image > Remove People" and walk away. There are a few techniques that can be utilized. Some are not too arduous a task and even provide fantastic results, others require slightly more work to clone them out completely. But this is all time-consuming and unnecessary considering an aforementioned "would you mind if I.."  could've solved everything at the time.

Recommended Photoshop Books for Comp Stomp Removal

Did you know that your first line of removal could in fact be in the first instance, at the location, using these 3 Photoshop books?

I own all of these books and recommend these and other books to the students I teach, but I have found that these 3 come in particularly useful at the location when presented by a photography comp stomper. Insightful for the information they provide but also useful due to the size and weight of each book.

Technique, Velocity, and Mass

The technique is crucial to the effectiveness on the offending photographer. Wind speed and wind direction all play an important part in executing the most effective results, so practice the following in the backyard. For the purposes of this exercise, we will imagine it is a perfectly calm day.

The technique of the removal launch is a relatively simple one in which you lower your center of balance slightly while at the same time twisting your upper torso backward to provide the pitching shoulder with that extra bit of power. Remember most of the power comes from the shoulder, however, the twist in the torso also provides that extra power to carry through the momentum — ideal if the offending photographer is further away. Study the above image for proper technique. Remember to quickly resume your photographic positioning after the act, as this will cause further confusion to the offending comp stomper.

The lightest of the books is your first choice; How Do I Do That in Photoshop by Scott Kelby. With its minimal weight and size, this book is a good starting point. A gentle nudge shall we say, with minimum power you should contact your target quite easily.Should that not work, or perhaps your target is a little farther away, The Photoshop Workbook by Glyn Dewis, should provide ample mass that when it connects, will really get the point across. Not so much of a drop throw with this one, more of a direct projectile.

The final and most effective removal technique in this instance is Adobe Photoshop CC for Photographers, by Martin Evening. With a hefty mass, this one should only be used at close proximity, unless of course, you have a good throwing arm. 

This one is the ultimate removal tool so should be considered carefully before committing.

Remember the Face Says It All

The look on your face can either give it away or totally void you of any blame, that's if there is more than one photographer there. Here are a few faces to remember.

  1. The "Hi there"; friendly, "Yes I know you are in my shot, but hey, that's cool, I'll use Photoshop". Probably the most important look to set up the act.
  2. After the act; The "Where did that come from?"
  3. The "Oh my, that looked sore", yet still looking innocent. This one should be quickly followed by the "Where did that come from?" to further induce a sense of innocence and bewilderment.
  4. Finally, the acknowledgment. "Yes you know it was me. Perhaps you'll get the hint now?"


Hopefully, you enjoyed learning how Photoshop books can be utilized before even opening them up. However, I would recommend reading these ones if you haven't already. And no, I don't condone violence of any form. The idea actually sprang from a recent video I watched by Brendan Van Son watch the video and you'll see what I mean.

Enjoy whatever 2022 brings in the form of photography for you. And remember, don't be that kind of photographer, be courteous, there's plenty of room for everyone unless of course, you are at the Mesa Arch. And if you do walk into someone else's shot, just ask if it's ok. Most photographers are really decent folks and will say whether you are just out of view, or that you can be cloned out using Photoshop software and not the books. Plus you never know, their composition might be better than yours. 

Oh, and I mentioned a caveat for using the above techniques. You are wasting perfectly good books.

Log in or register to post comments
Andy Day's picture


Gary McIntyre's picture

Many thanks Andy, appreciated.

Ed C's picture

Nice! The worst are the self imagined Instagram models who travel in packs and have to take get up as close to the main feature as possible then take turns getting dozens of shots with no regard to anybody else around. Hard to have enough books to through at them.

Gary McIntyre's picture

Never thought of that one Ed, very true. Thanks for reading.

charles hoffman's picture

bring along a book to read while the guys before you get bored and leave

Gary McIntyre's picture

Totally as you don't get too many folks that wait for a while. keep yourself occupied.

Andy Puest's picture

Fantastic article; I especially like the "face says it all" part - great stuff!

Gary McIntyre's picture

Appreciated Andy and thanks for reading. Remember you got to practice the faces as well as the technique :)

Charles Haacker's picture

Hilarious, but why lug around a set of books with all your other kit? A handy rock should work as well, no?

Don L's picture

make that a hefty rock..

Gary McIntyre's picture

Perhaps the first book would work and so therefore while you wait for the light to change you could catch up on some new editing techniques? Rocks can be a bit too lethal and probably cause a court case. However, and I could be wrong here, I've never heard of anyone being prosecuted for educational assault using a book.
'Your honor, I present to you exhibit A, a 4oz book by Scott Kelby'
Thanks for reading Charles, glad you enjoyed the humor.

Robert K Baggs's picture

I've never been caught off-guard with an article more than halfway through this. Laugh-out-loud stuff, bravo.

Gary McIntyre's picture

Honestly really appreciate that Robert. Glad you enjoyed it.

Tom Freda's picture

Ha! LOL! Finally, a tutorial that cuts through the BS!

However, I'm somehow blessed with the ability to be both authoritative and polite at the same time. I don't know how I do it, but I simply tell them in a calm voice that if they just get the f*** out of my shot, I can finish and then they'll have the whole place to themselves. It's never failed - so far.

But at least now, thanks to your article, I have a plan B. ;-)

Gary McIntyre's picture

Plan B is costly though Tom. The practice of it does improve posture and mobility and is a good limber up for a long hike.
Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed it.

F F's picture


But it brings up an interesting point about how we photographers buy wholeheartedly into the 19th-century Manifest Destiny perspective of a God-given wilderness devoid of humans. We work very hard to ensure no sign of other people appears in our shots of locations that are literally *teeming* with crowds, i.e. Canyonlands, Yosemite, or—really—any National Park.

In fact, these North American landscapes were only people-free for a very brief window, after European diseases wiped out 50-million people, triggering the Little Ice Age. Then Europeans moved in. The change in human-selected forest structure since then is responsible for the catastrophic wildfires decimating the West in recent decades.

The Hudson Valley painters hired by the railroads in the 1800’s to sell the West to Easterners played on this pseudo-religious virgin landscape trope, which continues with a vengeance in today’s landscape photography tradition, long after oil painting declined.

So, the question is, what does the future of landscape photography look like from a truly post-colonial perspective?

Deleted Account's picture

You should write and submit that article.

Tom Freda's picture

True, but with rare exception, what you say really only applies to the US. I could name hundreds of mind-blowingly spectacular wilderness sites in Canada that I could show up at and be the only person there.

I'd love to share the locations, but thanks to Instagram, they'd end up like nearly every national park in the US; overcrowded to the point of destruction, and traffic jams that rival cities.

F F's picture

Same point, really. That these North American environments were depopulated and presented as pristine, whatever their current visitation might be.

Gary McIntyre's picture

Good point. Very recently we climbed Ben 'Aan (the small mountain) very early am to get some sunrise shots. It's a hike of 50 minutes or so with some steep inclines, hence the name. It's a popular short hike and well worth it for the views so you expect there to be up to a dozen or so folks there.

That morning there were at least 35-40 people with the same idea, the busiest I've seen it. I'm fine with that as we can go anytime so it's just another short hike. What really got my goat on this occasion was the mp3 player blaring out the music for everyone to hear!

Personally, I go into the hills to get away from the hustle, bustle, and noise to appreciate the calmness of nature and either to take photographs or not. Don't think too many folks would appreciate me playing Slipknot at the top of a mountain if I so decided. It's a shame emp's couldn't only target mp3 players.

Thanks for reading and glad you enjoyed it.

Michael Clark's picture

The Little Ice Age began in 1303 CE. Are you saying European/Asian/African diseases were introduced to North America long enough before then to cause the deaths of 50 million inhabitants and then the consequences of their absence to set in motion the beginning by 1303?

Michael Clark's picture

Beyond that, population density at its peak in North America before European settlement began in earnest in the 17th century was never anywhere near the density today. Estimates range from 60-120 millions at the absolute peak. By around 1700 CE it had dropped to 6-8 million. Today the population of North America is around 580 million, or roughly 5X to 10X as dense.