"Tourist Remover" cleans up your vacation photos

"Tourist Removed" is a web app that will remove other tourists from the photos you took of landmarks while on vacation as a tourist. All you have to do is take multiple shots of the same location, and Tourist Remover will only keep the bits that stay the same. It's like diff for photos! [via Halogen Life]
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18 Responses to "Tourist Remover" cleans up your vacation photos

  1. Daemon says:

    I remember reading about this, or another similar online app, ages and ages ago. As somebody who’s fairly skilled with photoshop, I’ll stick to doing it manually, but it’s got promise for the masses.

    I heavily recommend the use of a tripod, so as to minimize differances caused by your movement.

  2. Anonymous says:

    But … I usually don’t WANT to have the people removed. At least in the places I travel, they’re often at least as interesting as the buildings.

  3. Peter Beck says:

    Where do all the removed tourists go? I hope they get to hang out together someplace interesting. And is it like Purgatory, or do they eventually get reborn? Who knew walking in front of someone’s camera could be a form of suicide? Kthx.

  4. Brian says:

    Yeah Photoshop CS3 and CS4 both have an option to do this. It is a built in plug in and requires no, special training. Apart from affording Photoshop of course.

  5. Loki says:

    er..am I missing something very basic here? For this to work you need to take multiple photos, e.g. one with the tourist interloper and another without them…in which case…why wouldn’t you just keep the second one instead of cleaning the first one…?
    I am sure I am committing some basic stupidity here, please let me know the errors of my thinking.

  6. tinwheeler says:

    Hey! here’s an interesting idea; why not wait until the people are out of the picture or crop with your zoom lens or move in closer. Just asking.

  7. certron says:

    I believe some later versions of Photoshop have this capability. I am repeatedly amazed at the results, although it is probably a fairly simple bit of edge detection and difference calculation.

  8. Tony Ruscoe says:

    Boing Boing first reported on this about three years ago:


    I’ve no idea whether they’ve improved their technology since then…

  9. Keith says:

    I have to wonder how well it handles changes in light between shots. I can imagine that if you try this on a semi-cloudy day you may wind up with a kind of gray goo shot. Hope I’m wrong.

  10. Neil says:

    Loki, the second photo would be fine if it has absolutely no tourists in it, but most of the time with people moving around in-shot you will have different people in different locations on the two pictures. Presumably the two two photos are compared and any elements that aren’t in both (i.e. people moving about) are removed. Would be great for a ’28 Days later’ style unpopulated shot of somewhere like Trafalgar Square…

  11. mathew says:

    Photoshop Elements has this feature. It also has a related feature for combining the best bits out of multiple group photos. (e.g. in one frame the kid is pulling a face, but in the other the mother has her eyes closed)

  12. J France says:

    @4: Yes: that there will always be a tourist in the photo, just all at different places.

    But if it’s really, really busy ten you’ll never get a few places free – depends.

    That’s where the ability to do it manually and use a bit of the clone tool helps. It’s easy, and something I can do quickly, but I’d be curious to compare it to a machine doing the same job.

  13. martin says:

    There have been GIMP plug-ins doing the same thing for years. They may even use one of those plug-ins as you can run GIMP as a CL tool without the cost of fancy graphics on the screen.

    To put it simply in statistical terms: the outliers between the samples are remove and the average or median value of the remaining sample is used in the composed pixel.

    In laymans terms: They remove the “tourists” that differ between the photos. If you have those common ugly fat sweaty American tourists (in shorts or tight sweat pants to add to injury and always with food stains, how do they get those? do they eat through osmosis?) wandering about in all the pictures, the tool will remove them and use the parts from photos that match each other perfectly, eg. where there are no tourists. Same thing with for example birds or other moving objects.

  14. jfrancis says:

    I think Photoshop Extended image stack uses the median filter to do this. Whatever the pixel is most of the time must be its tourist-free color.

    Here is something with image stacks and averages


  15. Titus says:


    It’s a little bit more complex than that. First the app needs to stabilize the three or more input images so they match (pattern recognision), then the program compares the luminosity of every pixel and if the value exists in at least two images, then stays in the final image. A very similar procedure exists in many video post-production programs as garbage matte.

  16. WalterBillington says:

    The Omega Man, anyone? What’s wrong, exactly, with people?

  17. waffleboyz says:

    Why not just shot it the old school way, just put your camera on a slow shutter speed and let the tourist just blur away to “invisible land”?

  18. Javier says:

    Exactly, seems pointless to have the people removed. I think the people is what makes a photo special, otherwise is just an image seen a thousand times before.

    Instead of removing the people, wait until something interesting happens and take the photo at that exact moment!

    Unless you want to depict a post-holocaust world where no one survived ;))

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