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Photoshop Power Tips and Tricks

Lesson 8 of 14

Stack Modes: Remove People

Jesús Ramirez

Photoshop Power Tips and Tricks

Jesús Ramirez

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Lesson Info

8. Stack Modes: Remove People

Lesson Info

Stack Modes: Remove People

When I travel, like most of you, I like to take photos. So, anybody know where that is? Louvre. Louvre, that's right. I used to call it Louvrey when I was less educated. (chuckles) But anyway, this is the Louvre museum. And I was in Paris for just 24 hours, I was actually in London for a event, and somebody said, "You can go to Paris, "just take the train and come right back the next day." I was like, "Perfect, I'll do that." And I did, and it was great, but the point is is that I only had 24 hours, and I wanted to get a photo of the Louvre, and what happens when you go to places like this? Or any place really, there's people in the way, right? So I wanted to have a photo of the Louvre with no people. So I know that Photoshop has this hidden tool that not a lot of people know about, it's called Stack Modes. Anybody know about Stack Modes? One person, two people. Oh three, oh wow, see you guys are a smart class, usually when I ask this nobody knows. The Creative Live crowd is smart.

But anyway, so in Photoshop there's these things called Stack Modes. In a way they're like Blending Modes they blend layers together, but it's not really a blending mode, because a blending mode is applied to one layer on top, the Blend layer, and then everything else below is the base. With Stack Modes, you really are blending all the pixels and all the layers together. There's a Stack Mode that takes a statistical average of every image, and it keeps the constant pixels. So that means that in a photo like this, the constant pixels will be the museum and the buildings. People are not constant, people are moving, cars are moving. So then they would be removed. Now, I was in Paris and I just had my cellphone. I didn't have a tripod or a camera, ideally you want to set your camera with a tripod, I didn't have that, I just had my phone. So I stood there very very still and took a photo. Waited approximately 25 or 30 seconds, took another photo. I was keeping an eye on people making sure the people were moving, because if people are standing and talking, not really moving this wouldn't work. So you kind of have to keep an eye on people. So I kept taking pictures, and as you can see those are the pictures that I took. I didn't have a tripod so Photoshop is going to have align them for me as well. Luckily for us, there's a command in Photoshop that does all this for us. And let me just close this window just to make things easier to see. If you're going to Filter, I'm sorry, File, Scripts, Statistics, so far very intuitive, just kidding. (chuckles) Image Statistics, you'll get into the Stack Mode window here. But you want to use, yeah Files of course, but all my files are in a folder so I'm gonna select Folder. So I'm gonna click on Browse, and I'm gonna look for that folder, there it is. Press OK. Photoshop is then going to load all these files, and I think I took, how many, 16, 17. I took 14, 14 files, into the image stack window. Remember that I said that I didn't have a tripod and I needed Photoshop to help me align those pictures for me? Make sure that if you don't have a tripod, select Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images. So Photoshop is gonna line them up for me. Then I have to tell Photoshop which of these stack modes, these blends, am I going to apply, or it's going to apply. The Median stack mode is the stack mode that I referenced earlier, which takes a statistical average of all the pixels and keeps the constant ones. Basically if something is there and it doesn't move it'll stay, if it's moving it'll go away. Then you can press OK. And then you let Photoshop do it's magic. So it's going to load all the layers in the Layers panel. Then at some point it's going to attempt to align those layers, and it's doing that now. And after it aligns the layers it's going to look at all the pixels on every layer and keep the constant ones, and remove the pixels that are not constant. So if everything works, we should see the Louvre with no people. Like that. Pretty cool right? Now which of you can see the two, or three problems that this image has? Can you see it? What is it? Clouds. The clouds, good eye. So that was gonna be the first thing that I was gonna point out. So earlier I said that the constant pixels stay, pixels that are not constant are removed. If you remember from looking at the original photos here, see how how the clouds are moving? So of course they're not gonna stay, 'cause they're moving. So if I go back into Photoshop I can fix that because this is, this is what? Smart object. Smart object, right. You see that little icon there in the bottom right? So that's a smart object, that means that I can open it and edit the contents. But I don't really wanna edit the contents, I'm gonna double click on it to open it, all I really wanna do is just steal part of the content. So I'm going to click on the rectangular marquee tool, click and drag on the top part of the image there. And I could use any layer, it really doesn't matter which one, the top one works fine. Then go into Edit, Copy Merge. I'm gonna close it, I'm not gonna save it, because I didn't wanna keep any change. Then I can press Control + Shift + V, Control + Shift + V. Not Control + V, Control + V is just paste, so Photoshop is just gonna paste it on there. I don't want Photoshop just to paste it on there, I want to paste it in place. Control + Shift + V. So if you go into File, I'm sorry, Edit, Paste Special, Look at this, Paste in Place. So it's not a regular paste, it's Paste Special, Paste in Place. When I paste it in place, it pastes it in place, (chuckles) so now we have the clouds. We have one problem, we have this seam right here going right through the pyramid. But that's really really easy to fix. If I click on the Layer Mask icon, I can then click on the Brush tool. And we still have that same cloud brush, but that's not gonna work for this example, so I'll select a different brush. Layer Masks allow you to hide or reveal pixels by using the different levels of luminosity. Black hides, white conceals, when you first create a, I'm sorry, black hides, white reveals. When you first create a layer mask, notice that the layer mask is white, that's because it's revealing everything in that layer. But if we want to hide anything in that layer, I can paint with black. So notice what happens when I paint with black, I start hiding pixels away and I remove the seam. So that's not we fix the first problem. We have another problem, it looks like we left somebody's arm or leg there. Right there, you guys see that? (audience laughs) I'm gonna zoom in, there it is. Yeah, looks like somebody's arm. And we can easily fix that by using the Spot Healing Brush Tool. I can go into the Spot Healing Brush Tool, and I can just paint that away, like so. So now that person is gone. And I used a new layer, I always like to work non-destructively. So I created a new layer and painted that person away. Now, to be frank with you, there are a couple other mistakes like that, like right over here. I'm not gonna go through all of them, but I just wanna show you that it wasn't a perfect removal of people, there's still some imperfections. But you can easily fix those by using the Spot Healing Brush Tool. So that's the before and after. Now, the next problem I'll worry at the end, are the edges here. Notice the black there? The reason you're seeing black is 'cause Photoshop rotated the images when it was aligning them. So no matter how still you stand, you're still breathing, you're still moving just a little bit, that's why you're gonna get black along the edges, though way to avoid that is to use a tripod of course. Now, this is also another tip that I recommend people. So we're working on a, even though it's one photo, it's really a composite, 'cause we're creating one image out of multiple layers that have different content. So one thing that I like to do when compositing or doing images like this is put them all into one single smart object. So this is already a smart object, I can actually put that smart object alongside these two layers, into another smart object. So I can control all of those as if it were a single photo. So I'm gonna hold shift, click on the bottom layer, it selects them all, then I'm going to right click, and select Convert to Smart Object. So now those layers are all now inside of this smart object. So I can control that now as a single layer. And I just noticed something when I tapped on screen, by default Photoshop doesn't show this as blue, I changed the highlight to blue because when I'm teaching I want you guys to see what I'm clicking on. If you're curious as to how to do that, you can press Control + K, Command + K on the Mac, to bring up the Preferences, Highlight Color, Blue. See that there? So that's how you get blue in your Photoshop. And also I think it looks cooler than gray. So even if I wasn't teaching I would change it to blue. But anyway, so we have this layer here, or this smart object, now I can treat it as a single image, and work with it with a Camera Raw Filter. So now I'm applying all the same camera raw adjustments that you would see in a Lightroom CC or Lightroom Classic. And for something like this, usually what I like to do is simply make the highlights darker, the shadows brighter. Oops, those are not the shadows, these are the shadows. The shadows brighter to create sort of an HDR effect. And then I like to add vibrance to saturate the photo, to add more pop to the image. I prefer vibrance over saturation in most cases. The difference between them is that Vibrance protects already saturated pixels, and it protects skin tones. So if you're working with portraits, it'll protect your skin tones. And if you just wanna bump up the saturation of all pixels at the same time, you can use Saturation. But for most cases I use Vibrance just to keep things subtle and not go overboard. And then Clarity adds contrast to the mid-tones. So I'm adding that contrast there to mid-tones to make the image pop. I can press OK, and notice here we have the Camera Raw Filter adjustment in that smart object, so I could disable it, or I could edit it by double clicking at the label. And that's one of the benefits of working with a smart object, you can always go back, edit it, or delete it. Now that I made that adjustment, all I have to do is fix the corners there. That's really easy to do, I'm sure you all know how to do that. You can go in to the Crop Tool, click and drag the corners, and then you could even use these perspective, or, not perspective grids, these overlays, and then maybe do like a rule of thirds type of thing. Where we have the pyramid right in the middle in if want. Whatever the composition that you wanna do for your image. And hit Enter when you're done, and that's the final image. It was done, as you saw, fairly quickly, and the photos were shot just with a cellphone. Just the Google Pixel phone. Yeah? Just a quick question, when you're in the Camera Raw Filter, do you have that secret auto menu in there as well? No (laughs) but good question though. Yeah, you don't unfortunately. But with the Camera Raw Filter, what you would do, and actually I didn't click on it, what you would do is use the eye dropper which is right here. This guy, White Balance Tool. So you would just click on the eye dropper, and click on that, and then use the... Whites, blacks, highlights, and shadows to make those adjustments. And to be frank with you, I think if you're working with a raw photo, doing it this way works better than taking that raw photo, making it into a JPEG, and then applying the curves adjustment layer. That wouldn't work as well as doing it through here, so. Somebody, Jody, asking about how you have all those colors on the side there, how do you make those too. Yeah it's very simple. The colors really don't do anything, they're just labeling systems, and it kinda just helps me separate layers from other layers. Because I used to teach something similar where none of the layers had labels, so sometimes I would skip over. So now I have different colors and numbers so that I don't skip over them. But anyway, to apply a color is really simple, just right click on the layer, and you can select No Color, or red, or you know, blue, or whatever color that you like. And the label appears here on the left-hand side, right there.

Class Description

Everyone knows that Adobe® Photoshop® is full of amazing tools and features, but where are they hidden? And which ones should you use to be the most efficient and productive as possible? In this class, Jesus Ramirez will share his best Photoshop tricks and power shortcuts. He’ll concentrate on little-known techniques that most people never think to use and some tricks that even the experts may not be aware of.


Adobe Photoshop CC 2018

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Time Saving Actions

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Student Work

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There are but a scant few who really know Photoshop well enough that are able to teach it with a comfortable flow, thoroughness and a pleasant personality. Jesus hits all the marks and I must say, I enjoy... and more importantly, learn more from him than most of the others. It's a pleasure learning from him. Thanks! (I watched 3 times in a row today LOL)


Absolutely loved this concise and useful course! This was the first time I’ve heard Jesús teach and I really enjoyed his teaching style. He gets right to the point, no fluff or filler, is easy-going. The tips he teaches in this course are great! I’ve been using photoshop for ten years and I learned something new in each section. Money well spent!! I can hardly wait to check out his other courses!!!

Scott Weishair

Amazing! Really cool stuff explained quite well. Loved it!