by Mike McNamee Published 01/02/2014
Simplification of an image rarely spoils it. Cut back to the bare essentials, the viewer has to concentrate solely on what the photographer has put before them.
Unwanted people and distracting objects rarely look good in an image - the milling tourists, stray fire extinguishers, passing cars, discarded littler all contribute to the mayhem.
Given that they are present (or even ever-present!) what can we do about them? There are a number of tactics.
The first choice might be a change of viewpoint or lens. If this is not possible use of a long exposure might allow for some simplification. In this case, providing you are not dealing with swaying trees, the longer the better. In the headline image, on the following page, Paul McMullin has employed a Lee Filters Big Stopper to give a 30 second exposure, such that all that is left of our jolly gondolier is a curved wake. Similar tactics could be employed in a cathedral (for example) by holding a black card on front ofthe lens while passers-by cleared the scene.
If an image cannot be sorted at the taking stage then it's back to Photoshop. Here again there are many options:
1. Clone over an offending area/object.
2. Copy a useful area from elsewhere in the image (or another image) paste it onto its own layer and then position it to hide the offending area/object.
3. Mark out the offending area with a selection then employ 'content aware fill' to replace it.
4. Use the Patch Tool as above.
If all the above are not appropriate, use the median method described next.
Ever been in this situation. You are shooting inside a cathedral, the light is streaming perfectly through the stained glass but the pews and aisles are full of tourists, milling about, taking Selfies and generally getting in the way. Additionally the cathedral is not due to close and send them all home any time soon!
The following technique will vapourise tourists silently, painlessly and within the law - read on!
Shoot a set of images from a tripod at the same exposure conditions, making sure, between shots, that people have moved a full body width away . In this scenario the old lady in a shawl attending to her devotions might be a problem but keep shooting until she leaves - if not you at least have only one area to deal with by manual intervention methods.
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