Question: I have seen this technique out there quite a bit and would love to know how to do it. I plan on taking tons of photos during a vacation I have coming up and I know that there will be tourists all over the place. The thing is, I don’t want these tourists in my pictures. Is there a way to take multiple shots of the same thing and then somehow remove the people from the pictures so it looks like they were never there? Or, that the area I’m photographing is empty or deserted? I’ll be shooting typical things, such as town squares, fountains, buildings, monuments, etc…
Answer: Okay, what you’re referring to is called Stacking and it’s totally possible to accomplish what you’d like to accomplish here. The trick is to capture your photos while using a tripod and the camera is completely still. A remote shutter button would be perfect in this type of situation. Also, make sure you’re camera is set to manual focus because you don’t want it focusing and refocusing on every person walking by. All of the images need to have been focused on the same object. Actually, if you can shoot in full manual mode, that would be even better. That way, the camera won’t be automatically changing shutter speed and aperture depending on the available light. Light can change over just a few minutes. Be sure people in the scene are moving as you’ll need them in different areas in each photo. It’s no use taking multiple shots of the same people sitting on the edge of a fountain in each image.
When you have a set of photos (probably around 10), go ahead and browse to their location in Adobe Bridge. Then, select them in Bridge and open them into Camera Raw. To reduce strain on your computer’s processor, edit just one of the photos until you’re happy with the way it looks. Then, select all of the photos in the left column in Camera Raw by using the keyboard shortcut of Ctrl (Command)+A and then right-click on the top image and click on the Sync Settings option from the menu that pops up. This will open up the Synchronize dialog box, where you should choose the Everything option and click OK. Basically, what you just did was edit one photo and then apply those edits to all the other almost identical photos. The reason you didn’t select all of the images and edit them at once was because that’s a slow process. It can drag on your computer and use a lot of RAM.
When you’re finished with that, click the Done button in Camera Raw to return to Bridge. This was just the primary editing portion of your project. You didn’t ask about this, but I told you anyway. It’s a good idea to get this type of thing out of the way so you can move on.
Now, to answer your question, yes, you can open up all of the photos at once in Photoshop so they are all in the same file. To do this, go into Photoshop and click on the File menu. Then, click on the Scripts > Load Files into Stack option. After you do this, the Load Layers box will open up, where you should browse to locate your images. When you find them, select them and open them. Once you do this, you should see them listed in the Files window in the same Load Layers box.
If you think the camera may have moved slightly during your initial photography, you can choose the Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images box and then it’s important to select the Create Smart Object After Loading Layers option. This will do exactly what it says it will do. Both of these check box options are located directly below the list of files. When you’re ready, click the OK button to load the images into one Smart Object inside of Photoshop. If you double-click on the Smart Object in the Layers panel, you’ll see your image stack.
I hope this helped.