How to Photoshop the Tourists Out

by Marina Lorenzini on July 26, 2013


I found the photo most recently here:

After seeing this image floating around the internet that promised the ability to “delete tourists from your travel photos,” I felt compelled to fact check the claim.

How many times have you been at a landmark, wishing to capture that picture perfect postcard pic, but you were frustrated by the crowds of people who just won’t move out of the way? The promise of this photo trick seemed perfect, a little bit too perfect.

So, I decided to check it out and learn just how to achieve such a tourist-free image.

Experiment 1: Reflecting on Transparency Problems


The first thing that I learned was that there were limitations regarding the type of landmark you could use. The glass of the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue, with it’s reflections and transparencies, did not bid well for this trick — too many variables, I assume.applestore640final

Experiment 2: Types of Motion I


The next thing that I learned, pertained to the type of motion happening within the frames. Quick lateral movement disappeared easily, while short distance movement did not. The children and the swings themselves disappeared, while the babysitter appeared splinched.babysitter1-640-final

Experiment 3: Types of Motion II


People who are just sitting around, or standing in conversation will only partially be removed or blurred.wsp640final

Experiment 4: Keep It Steady


It’s very important to use a remote for your camera, since even the slightest movements can cause the image to be less precise. Also, the pixellation seen in the left side of the photo is due to people moving towards the camera. Photoshop was able to remove the biker and the pedestrian moving along the street, but not the people crossing the street towards the camera.street640final

Experiment 5: Bingo


Though sometimes you just happen upon an angle and situation that works! The people moving horizontally were eliminated, as was the car to the bottom right. Streets are typically easier since you can predict the direction of movement. corner mural-640-final

Enjoy your tourist-free photos.

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  • Jeff Gates

    I “embrace” tourists and they often become an important part of my photos. A recent photo I took in Beijing at the Forbidden City:

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