Make It Clean

Sorry, I was out of pocket last week; I was out of town for work.  As a review, we were talking about keeping extraneous people out of your tourists shots.  This is especially true if you go to historical sites, with actors dressed to fit the appropriate timeline.  You don't want to see anybody or anything that doesn't fit in the time period.  The first (and best approach) is to get it right in the  camera by watching your background.  Sometimes, getting it right in the camera may require a slight change in the conditions of your location. Here is a good example from my trip to Antietam.  When the artillery battery sets up on the battlefield, you can see it is now populated with power poles and lines and memorial buildings.  To get a photo without those distractions, just wait until they fire the canons.

canons, artillery battery, Antietam, Marylandcanons, artillery battery, Antietam, MarylandYou don't always have the luxury of canon smoke to obscure your distractions.  Occasionally, you're going to have to fix things in post-processing.  The two easiest ways to accomplish this are cropping and pixel manipulation.  Down the road, I'll discuss another way that requires a little more horsepower.

Cropping can make a very big difference.  These cowboys are, obviously, discussing the latest gunfight in Tombstone.  Unfortunately, some woman from the future decided to eavesdrop behind them, , while she cools off with an ice cream cone.  Aaargh!

Cowboys at Tombstone, ArizonaYou can crop her out with any number of programs; I use Lightroom.  This will simplify the photo at the same time as removing the tourist.  If you look closely, you can still see the hand and shin of another tourist, but most people would never notice that.  If it still bothers you, it's time to move into a software program that can eliminate that distraction.

Cowboys at Tombstone, ArizonaThe last resort to remove people who distract from your tourist photos is the clone tool.  There are lots of choices other than Photoshop, but that is the most commonly used.  They work generally the same way, and your viewer really doesn't care which tool you use.

Confederate flag and soldierWe've blogged about cloning over distractions in previous entries, so I won't go into great detail this time.  We recommend you make the changes on a separate layer, so any mistakes are easy to remove without damaging the base image.  Carefully clone out the distracting people and match the background.  Move slowly through each distraction, and use multiple sample points to avoid repeating patterns.  I usually do the base work and take a break before final retouches.  This gives my eyes a break and helps me more easily see things I might have missed.  Before you know it, the distractions are gone.

Confederate flag and soldierYou can minimize or eliminate distractions in your travel/tourist photos, without too much effort, using any combination of the methods we've discussed.  Most of your viewers are so used to seeing distractions in their photos that they may not even realize why yours look better.  Your work, in and out of the camera, will give you better photos to remember your travel  destinations.  It is worth the effort.

Cowboy in a saloon door, Tombstone, Arizona