Hey You, Out of My Shot!

Christopher Wise
GIMP, which we used to create this photo, is the more advanced program

Even if you can't get away from other tourists on your vacation, you can make it look like you did—by removing them from your digital photos.

Taking your photos Two Web-based photo-editing programs, Snapmania and the unfortunately named GIMP, connect the uninhabited parts of multiple photos of the same scene to create a composite image free of people. For the process to work, you need at least three shots of the location from the same angle, without moving the camera (a tripod is a good idea). Allow a couple of minutes to go by between each picture so the people aren't standing in the same places.

Using the programs After you upload your pictures and select the ones you'll use, snapmania.com does all the tourist-removal work for you in a matter of minutes. There may be slight imperfections in the results: ghostly fingers floating in space or the outline of a person's foot. If this happens, try adding more images or removing the one that has the most tourists in it. Selecting the "best" image quality instead of "normal" will also improve the final photo, although normal sometimes gives you more results to choose from. A one-month subscription to the site costs $4.90 for two gigabytes of storage space or $6.90 for unlimited storage.

Gimp.org (the name is an acronym for the GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free, scaled-down version of Adobe Photoshop. After you download the software, you remove tourists by placing pictures of the same scene on top of each other and using the eraser tool to rub out anyone you don't want. To make the work a bit easier, choose the photo with the least number of tourists as your base image. That way, when you erase the people from the other images, you'll reveal the tourist-free areas in the base photo. Don't forget to also delete the shadows of people, which are easy to miss. GIMP costs nothing to use, though it does solicit donations.

The bottom line Even though it costs money, Snapmania is the better option for those who don't have any photo-editing experience. The program's online tutorials offer clear, step-by-step instructions. Plus, you can get your tourist-free photos back in, well, a snap.

GIMP, which we used to create this photo, is the more advanced program. It takes longer to learn, but it has far more editing tools--and because you're doing the erasing, you can keep a friend in the picture if you choose (whether you want to depends on how much you like the person).

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