Safe, humane tourist-zapping in Photoshop Extended

Yesterday I mentioned that Photoshop CS3 Extended features "image stack analytical filters."  Er, yes, so that’s useful and relevant… how, exactly?  In a nutshell, you can now treat multiple images as a single entity, running an algorithm across them non-destructively.  So, for example, you could take a range of frames, then have Photoshop show you the average value of each pixel.  Other algorithms include Entropy, Skewness, Summation, and Kurtosis*.

If this doesn’t yet sound scintillating, it’s probably because (I’m guessing) you’re not doing technical image processing work.  It was to enable technical applications that image stack processing was added, and it’s the reason that one finds the feature in Photoshop Extended.

Having said that, photographer and author Martin Evening has come up with a great example of how combining multiple images into a stack, then aligning them and running the Median filter, can make moving objects (tourists, pigeons, bits of noise) disappear.  Check out his story on Photoshop News for details and images.  To demonstrate the process, I’ve whipped up this 75-second video demo using Martin’s images (hoping he won’t mind).  And you can watch Russell Brown "reduce global warming" by removing the cars from the Golden Gate Bridge**.

Now, I’ll admit that seeing image stacks this way makes our marketing story a little more challenging.  Didn’t we say that "Photoshop Extended" is meant to offer specific capabilities to people who need them, and that we haven’t withheld core photographic functionality in order to get every customer wanting/using Extended?  We did say that, and it’s true.  Image stacks are powerful and (I think) pretty cool, but I’d feel uneasy about overselling them a core photographic tool.  There’s both power and potential here, but it’s a little more science-fair-ish than we’d like to sell for mainstream photography work.

Does that make sense? We are sincere in trying to group capabilities logically in Photoshop vs. Photoshop Extended.  We did not want to be shady.  (That’s why, for example, you’ll find "Video Frames to Layers" in both editions of PS: It was previously in ImageReady, and even though we’d have had an easier time saying "all the video stuff is in Extended," we didn’t want anyone’s arm to feel twisted.)

* Which, Chris Cox assures me, does not mean “bad breath.”
** This also demonstrates how stacks are related to video, which is core component of Photoshop Extended.

0 thoughts on “Safe, humane tourist-zapping in Photoshop Extended

  1. Hi John,
    Image stacking looks awesome…. and incredibly useful to the photographic community…. bit gutted as I ordered my standard PS upgrade this morning!!! This tool has left me, as a photographer, hankering after Extended now. Is there any hope that this function will get included in a maintenance pack for PS standard?
    Thanks for sharing – great blog πŸ™‚

  2. I really don’t know what to say on this. This extended is as much a leap as from 5.5 to CS2 if not more. I think I will find a great use in photo for this- science fairish is what it takes to make a high end sale these days. If I am not just a little past reality than I am seen as ‘just another photographer’ You may have just saved my a** from extinction.

  3. John,
    Thank you for this blog.
    I noticed golive was not in any of the suites cs3launch. I am planning on buying some software to build my website. I am told golive is “easier” to learn than dreamweaver. So, my question is, is golive going to die by neglect? or Will I see a CS3 of golive soon?
    thank you
    [Ken, I addressed your question when you posted it earlier this week: Check out the GoLive page. There will be a new version (9.0) shipped later in the spring/summer. –J.]

  4. Not sure if you were referencing the Pepper song by Butthole Surfer in your 75-second title.
    [Indeed. πŸ™‚ –J.]
    but two other choice quotes from it that work nicely are:
    “I don’t mind the sun sometimes/The images it shows”
    “You never know just how you look/Through other people’s eyes”
    Or in your examples case, how you disappear in other people’s eyes. =)
    Good stuff though! Love the blog and nice lil nuggets like the example.
    [Heh heh–thanks. –J.]

  5. John,
    In thinking my ugrade to cs3 or extended photoshop; a question?
    If I put a can (jpeg) that is not a 3-D can, will I be able to use the wrapping feature in cs3 extended? or does it have to be 3-d file?
    [You can use Vanishing Point to wrap textures around planes, and those capabilities have been enhanced in both editions of PSCS3. But using 3D objects per se it only in Extended. –J.]

  6. Hi John-
    “Didn’t we say that “Photoshop Extended” is meant to offer specific capabilities to people who need them, and that we haven’t withheld core photographic functionality in order to get every customer wanting/using Extended?”
    Nope, but not using a more descriptive name has a similar effect.
    So what’s in a name?
    While the division of features between Ps versions is sensible, I’m willing to bet that adobe marketing has figured out that a whole lot of people will buy the Extended version even if they don’t need it. It becomes perceived as the “top” version because it is most expensive, and has the most features. If Adobe really wanted to make itself clear, it would have named the Extended version Photoshop Multimedia/Scientific or something.
    By naming the product Extended, Adobe has ensured that the product will be purchased by many more people than those who need it.
    But hey, that’s what marketing departments are for, so as always, caveat emptor =)

  7. “Image stacks are powerful and (I think) pretty cool, but I’d feel uneasy about overselling them a core photographic tool. ”
    Many (amateur) astrophotographers would disagree.
    [Astrophotoraphy is a technical pursuit, and hence is part of the mission of Extended. –J.]

  8. “[Astrophotoraphy is a technical pursuit, and hence is part of the mission of Extended. –J.]”
    Please …
    I wrote “(amateur)” as a qualifier just so I wouldn’t receive this response. Image stacks are one of the main tools used by hobby astrophotographers.
    And if you want to get technical, photography itself is a technical pursuit.

  9. Ok, remind me not to post before I have my morning coffee as my prior post comes off with a rather belligerent tone. Here’s take two.
    Amateur astrophotographers have been using image stacking as a standard procedure for several years now. These are not technical nor scientific researchers, but hobby photographers looking to make a “pretty picture”. Many use nothing more than a simple webcam and a telescope or lens to capture the images and a free software package like Registax for processing. Others use sophiticated and expensive cameras, scopes, and software to capture and process their images.
    But these are photographers first and foremost. Image stacking in this sense can be likened to combining images for panoramas. That is, one is using multiple images to create the final image.
    Finally, software packages don’t have missions, marketing departments do. And the best marketing departments can and do change the mission to reflect the reality of the marketplace. You can continue to claim that image stacks are not a basic photography tool. Or you can realize that there were uses you may not have considered. Current uses such as those used in amateur astrophotography. And new new uses as discovered by Martin Evening.

  10. That’s well put, Steve. I could use this feature as well (I’m also an amateur), and considered upgrading to Extended to get it. But the $150 premium for the one feature seems too steep, and means I’d be installing a version loaded with other features (ones that truly are video-only related) I’d never use.
    I appreciate John’s position here, and am grateful for his blog. But ultimately I hope Adobe will realize that image-stacking is really a photographic tool and thus belongs in CS3.
    Best regards,

  11. I agree with Steve and Dan. As an amateur astrophotographer, the stacking feature would be useful. We perhaps don’t need all the options, but a slimmed down version of the stacking feature would enhance our use of Photoshop greatly.

  12. As a hobbiest at both astrophotography, and landscape photography (hence panoramas) I’d agree with the others that image stacking should somehow be made available in the standard version.

  13. Steve, it’s been three years, and I don’t think CS 5 has a “tourist removal” button.
    I’d always imagined in the version after CS 3, there’d be a facility to select ‘n’ layers, and then click a button to automate the steps in Martin’s tutorial. (and perhaps a button to automate the DOF increasing via layering)
    I know context sensitive editing was in the lime-light, but this is such an awesome feature for many people – I’m surprised the marketing department didn’t use it as another feature in their list of selling points.
    What happened internally?
    Perhaps because of actions? I wonder if there’s an action that does automates this for beginners.

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