Remove Tourists From Vacation Photos In Photoshop – Stack Mode Tutorial

In this Photoshop tutorial, we will use Image Stacks to remove people walking through a scene. This technique does require some planning and the use of multiple photos, but the results are excellent!

The Image Stack Mode method is perfect for removing people from crowded places or unwanted objects moving through a scene.

The Image Stack Mode will take a statistical average of the content found in all the photos. It will keep identical areas and remove everything that changes between the shots.

Cars and people will likely move and change locations. Thus they will be removed when the algorithm is applied, leaving only the background.

When taking the photos, make sure your camera is on a tripod so that the images line up better during the blend. If you do not have a tripod, ensure that you hold your camera as steady as possible when shooting your images.

Wait 20 seconds or so in between each shot. You want to give people and cars time to move. In most cases, you will only need between 8 to 20 photos.

In this tutorial, we will use nine photos I shot with my cell phone without using a tripod.

For this video, I wanted to use photos that were not shot under the perfect conditions so that you could see the power of this technique.

Load Multiple Files as Layers

The first step is to bring those files into Photoshop as layers. To do so, go to File > Scrips > Load Files into Stack…

In the “Load Layers” window select “Folder” from the “Use” dropdown.

Then click on the “Browse” button, and look for the folder containing your images. If you are following along with my images, find the folder titled “stacking.”

Press OK after you have selected the folder.

The file names will appear within the window. If all the files are there, press the OK button to move the files into Photoshop.

Load Layers Into Stack

Auto-Align Layers

For the Image Stack to work, these layers need to align. If you used a tripod when shooting the images, then your layers should already be aligned.

The photos used in this tutorial were not shot with a tripod, so they will need to be aligned in Photoshop.

To align the layers, select them all by pressing Command Option A (PC: Ctrl Alt A).

Then go to the Edit menu and select “Auto-Align Layers.” Make sure that “Auto” is selected, and press “OK.”

Photoshop will then look through all your layers to find similar pixels and align them together.

Auto Align Layers

Put The Aligned Images into Smart Object

Select all your layers again, right-click on the side of any selected layers and choose “Convert to Smart Object.”

Apply The Median Stack Mode To The Smart Object

Now that all the layers are inside a Smart Object, we can control how the set blends by using a “Stack Mode.” Go to Layer > Smart Objects > Stack Mode > Median.

This Stack Mode takes a statistical average of the content found in all the photos. It keeps identical areas and removes everything that changes between the different shots.

In other words, Photoshop will eliminate any object that is not constant through all or most layers, such as people walking through the scene.

Apply Median Stack Mode

Faster Way of Doing This! Statistics Script

You can get to this point in the tutorial by simply using one command.

Go to File > Scripts > Statistic.

In the Image Statistics window, select Folder as the use, and click on the Browse button to find the images you want to use in the Image Stack.

Once the images load, select Median as the Stack Mode and check “Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images.”

Statistics Script

This command will Auto-Align the images and put them in a Smart Object using the Median Stack Mode. Getting you to this part of the tutorial.

Note: A Smart Object is a container that can hold one or more layers. It allows you to apply editable adjustments, distortions, filters, and transformations.

Fixing Image Stack Errors

Problems may arise when dealing with background elements that are constantly moving, such as water or flags.

In this example, the two flags on top of the Tribune Tower disappear. We can bring them back by copying and pasting a flag from one of the original images.

To do this, go to Layer > Smart Object > Edit Contents.

A new tab will open up that contains the contents of the Smart Object.

Then go to the layers labeled “02.jpg” this image, in my opinion, contains the best version of both flags.

Select the Lasso and make a selection around the American flag. With the selection, active press Command C (PC: Ctrl C) to copy.


Go back to the working document and paste the flag there. Command Shift V (PC: Ctrl Shift V). Repeat these steps with the smaller flag below the American flag.

Crop The Image

Use the Crop Tool to crop the picture. Press C on the keyboard, then use the handles to adjust the crop size. Press Return when you’re done.

Final Image

Drag The Slider To See Before & After

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You are Great!
I have used the Photoshop a years and had no idea of all this trikes.
Thank for sharing!


Jesus, I just discovered your excellent site. Thank you for this stacking tutorial. I live in San Miguel de Allende, MX, it is an incredible place for photo but almost impossible to shoot without people admiring the sights. This will make the difference.

I do have a question: as part of a personal challenge I want to place a transparent cloud into a room in an abandoned hacienda.
Do you have a tutorial that will help me achieve this effect.

Thank you,

triple sept alain

Why do not you put the links of images in your tutorials


Really like your tutorials and presentations. great job.

Quick question, can I use the Median Stack Mode (or other modes/scripts) to remove all people BUT one? Can I select a region in the photo to not be excluded?

It would be great when you want to keep you subject against a busy background or to keep a random person to make the photo more interesting

Davide D'Anna

Why not work whit only 2 photos?