Thursday, 27 November 2014

Photoshop Element's Crowd Control: Scene Cleaning in Sagano

One of the problems with shooting images in Japan is the crowds. Here we are in peak autumn colour viewing time and the place is crawling with tourists which, in places like the Sagano bamboo forest, makes it impossible to get a snap without including hundreds of people in the frame. One neat way to minimise the crowds is to use Photoshop Elements' Scene Cleaning feature.
To start you have to remember to shoot more than one frame of the location, preferably using a tripod. The trick is to snap off the same scene as the people move through it - in this example they were walking past on the roadway so I waited till different parts of the road were revealed. Import the lot into Elements then choose the least crowded image as the base shot. Then choose an image that has a space in the road that's different to the base image.  Draw round it using the pencil tool and it automatically selects, feathers and transfers that part of the image to the base image.  In practice you do not need anything like an accurate selection line - just scribble and it copies and pastes a chunk out of the image.  If it copies too much, use the eraser brush to reduce the selection.  In this example I used all four images to get a result that was almost completely free of people. The final image can then be cleaned up using the Clone or Healing brushes to give a fully cleaned result.

Screen grab of Elements' Scene Cleaning feature with four source images. It's a brilliant bit of software - each different source image is colour-coded so you can clearly see what bit comes from which image. Elements is combining a few very complex operations (selecting, feathering, copying and pasting) into a very simple process and it works well.
Sagano bamboo forest, Areshiyama, Kyoto - without the crowds

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