If you’re a photographer who visits public places and busy streets, and have wanted to get a picture of the environment with no one in the scene, then you would have felt this frustration several times. The nature of a public place is that it is open to the public – which means everyone has the right to be there, whether they are a photography enthusiast or not. Every time you attempt to take a shot of your subject, the odds of someone sauntering in are very high, and it can be a serious test of ones patience.
However, if you’re a time-lapse photographer, or have shot multiple frames of the exact same location, you can use a simple Photoshop technique to gracefully remove any unwanted elements out of an image and still preserve an unedited sense of aesthetics to the image. The technique involves using the process of layer masking in Photoshop, which this video addresses.
This is not a technique that I’ve invented, but one that has been around for ages. Masking in Photoshop is one of the most basic techniques that are out there. As a bi-product of time-lapse photography, one will typically end up with a large number of frames shots from exactly the same position with moving constantly moving elements while the stationary object remains in place. This generally means that one will end up with a large enough sample of images to be able to eliminate any unwanted objects in the frame and create an image that is free from distractions from the main subject.
The key about this technique is that you need light conditions to remain relatively stable through your photography process. Large variations in light levels will bring their own challenges in, and in some cases, can cause as many headaches as the very elements that you are attempting to remove.
Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Exposure bias: +1/3EV
Flash fired: no
Focal length: 17mm
Shutter speed: 1/2s