greco-roman theatre

Another shot from inside the Greco-Roman theatre at Taormina in Sicily. See my previous post for a more detailed description of the place.

The ruins appear devoid of people, but that wasn’t actually the case – photographs most definitely lie! There is an easy technique for removing unwanted bodies from your images. Simply take multiple shots over a period of time (eg 5-10 mins) using the same framing (a tripod helps, but is not always essential – I didn’t use one here) and hope that the light doesn’t change too much. The idea is that people move about, so if you take enough shots you will have sufficient pixel information to create a single people-free image.

In Photoshop, choose one image to be your base (I chose the one with least people visible) and add the other shots on top as layers and mask each one so only the bottom image is visible. You may need to use the auto-align tool to ensure that all the layers are lined up correctly.

Remove the people from your image by unmasking a small section from a layer where no person is stood in that position. This done by simply painting over the mask of that layer using the paint brush tool – black reveals the pixels below, white hides them. There is a decent explanation of how to use layer masking here.

Unfortunately I was concentrating so hard on maintaining the same framing by holding my camera as still as possible (I hadn’t brought my tripod – I hate carrying it around!), I didn’t notice that the upper-left sky was blown out. One of the few complaints I have about my camera (my trusty Nikon D40 – an entry-level SLR) is the lack of an automatic exposure bracketing feature. I tried rescuing/recovering the blown-out highlights using a few techniques, but this was the best I could do. I like the composition, but those highlights annoy me!

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5 Comments

  1. Lovely tones and textures Stephen. I actually like the blown-out section of the sky, contrasted against the heavy toned ruins, it lightens things up. Very nice.

  2. Love that smooth stone in the foreground. I’m with asf73…the white sky adds some drama. Micheal Tuuk tipped me off to a remedy for this by moving the color mode to LAB in Photoshop (if you have it). It worked great. I plan on putting together a “how to” on Digital Darkroom Techniques soon.

    1. Thanks. I think that large stone was actual made of polished metal (but I’m not 100% certain!). There were a few of them dotted around the complex in a variety of shapes and sizes, I presume they were part of some modern art display.

      I did try the LAB technique, but the effect was very subtle. That technique is good for adding back some colour/tonality, but it doesn’t recover lost detail. I look forward to reading your “how to”, I’m always looking to add new techniques to my repertoire.

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