In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to get rid of annoying tourists who just have to be in your photos. Come to think about it, YOU are probably an annoying tourist in someone else’s photo. I know, I’ve seen myself, or rather my backside, end up in other people’s otherwise spectacular images while traveling. So while you’re cursing the blindingly white guy with the Birkenstocks for spazzing-out and galloping in to your scene, any number of creative words could be used to describe you by the guy or girl right behind you. The point is, there’s a lot of tourists out there, but if you’re in a beautiful location and holding a camera, you too are a tourist. Don’t fret, Photoshop with help from you, is here to help get rid of those pesky globetrotters without the use of combat weapons, which isn’t good for anyone.
To start off, each image will be different, obviously, and will demand different types of cloning techniques. I chose this image, because replacing people with water and waves perfectly illustrates this tool and it’s abilities for this use.
Here’s the image. This is the beach at Tulum, the Mayan city in Quintana Roo, Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula. As you can see, its an amazingly beautiful place. One of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen, but it can get rather crowded since waves of tour buses flood in all day. I love the image of my beautiful wife on a spectacular beach, but not with all the other people I don’t know there too. Let’s make this a little more intimate.
The key to cloning away unwanted items in your photos is to work with the shapes and movement in your image. It helped me in this particular case that I’m a surfer and understand how waves move water and foam around on the surface.
I started by cloning out the boat on the left side of the image. I used the Clone Stamp (S) tool sized at 18 pixels with a feathered brush. As you can see here, there are gradients of color in the water around the boat. It’s important to really study the areas that surround what you are removing because it’s what needs to replace the item being removed. Because there appear to be horizontal bands of color that correspond with water depth, this will be the lines you use, the movement if you will. You can see the area I’m using to clone out the boat here. Remember that its important to continuously clone from different spots within the same area and color range so you don’t start making unrealistic patterns in your image.
Here, you can see a very distinct difference in color at the apex of the wave these guys are floating over. This is the line to follow when cloning these guys out. Be sure to remain using this technique throughout the different types of surfaces. If there’s a line where surface foam ends, this line should continue though the area the people are taken out of.
The following image shows the most difficult part of the image to clone. Here, a great portion of whitewash needs to be created to where it ends in the face of a wave. To do this, I searched for another section of the whitewash that could serve as at least the bottom part of the section. You can see the arrow indicating the section I used.
Here I used other areas of the top of the whitewash, especially areas where water drops can be seen in the air above to complete this area. I then used some of the sandy water to the right of the guy to finish off the flats.
Next I need to clone out the people immediately around my wife. To do this, I used the Polygonal Selection tool with a feather of one pixel and selected the area to clone so I make sure to not to effect her with my cloning frenzy.
Once I took care of this area, it was pretty much a repeat of the same techniques for the rest of the image. The whole process took ten minutes. Not bad for a tourist free image that appears as if we had this beautiful tropical beach to ourselves!
Cloning is fairly easy, but always remember to go with the flow and use the shapes and movement in the surrounding areas to predict what will replace the unwanted parts of your image.