Do you ever see those amazing photos of say, Machu Picchu that incredibly, do not have a single other tourist in it? How do you think they achieve that? Well let me tell you, they don’t shut down the attraction and clear the area of tourists, they most likely use a simple Photoshop trick called photo stacking.
Now hold up, don’t panic just because I said the word Photoshop. This is actually an incredibly easy process that even someone with the most basic Photoshop experience can do. And don’t worry – your image won’t turn out looking fake. Instead of some more advanced Photoshop techniques where you can “paint” over elements that you want to remove, photo stacking actually removes the elements you dont want, and replaces them with exactly what is behind that element in real life.
This technique will render a true to life image – just without any annoying tour groups in the way.
Do I need to be a pro photographer to do this?
Why no actually. All you need is a camera. It doesn’t need to be a fancy pants camera either. It can be any old camera. All you actually need to do is take a series of photographs. You can then keep those photos until you are good and ready to process them at a later date.
What equipment do I need?
Well obviously you will require a camera, but as I mentioned, it can be any type of camera. The only really crucial piece of equipment you will require is a tripod. (or else you will only be able to use this technique in an area where you can set the camera somewhere where it will be steady)
So how does it work?
In order to create a true to life photo without any people in it is simple. All you need is a series of photos – we found that 20 works best. How the process works is that Photoshop will examine the series of images, and will remove any element that is different in all the images, replacing it with what is static. And since people are generally moving around, they are easily eliminated and replaced with the background identified from the other photos in the series.
Keep in mind, this will only work when people are the only moving elements in your shot. Don’t try this on a windy day, or if there are flags in the shot – as it will end up looking strange.
A step by step guide to photostacking
Step 1: Takes a series of photos, 20 works well. One photo every 10 – 15 seconds is a good time frame. If people are moving really slowly, you may want to increase the time delay between photos.
Step 2: Import the photos to your computer
Step 3: Open Photoshop, select file, select scripts, select statistics which opens image statistics
Step 4: Select median in the choose stack mode field.
Step 5: From the image statistics box, select browse and select the photos in your series.
Step 6: Sit back, relax, and have a cocktail while Photoshop does everything else for you
Step 7: Right click on layers on the bottom right hand side, and select flatten
Step 8: Save you image and marvel at the serenity of having no other people ruining your travel photography masterpiece.