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How to erase elements from a layered Photoshop file

Mar 31, 2013 6:00 PM

Hi all,


I need help with the proper method for what I'd like to do. I realize what I'm asking sounds incredibly simple from the title, but it's actually much more complicated.

I took a time lapse of 240 photos of the highway below. What I want to do is create a background plate where all the cars are erased from the shot.

I'd love it if someone could advise as to the best way to approach this.

The steps I've been doing are:

  1. Open photos A & B in Photoshop (I'm using CS6)
  2. Drag photo B's background layer into A as a new layer and line up with A using 50% opacity and eyeballing it (is there an easier way to do this? the photos need to match exactly)
  3. Start erasing in obvious areas from layer B
  4. Merge Layers when there's nothing else to erase
  5. Repeat 1-4 with a new photo.


I don't think I'm doing this right though, because the baseline photo always has cars I can't erase.

I can do the reverse, and take photo A into another B photo, but it just feels like the way I'm doing this is wrong.


Is there a cleaner, more precise way to do this? If I've added a layer with no cars on top of the background layer, shouldn't I be able to erase the cars from the background layer?

Thanks all!




highway busy.jpg

highway moderate.jpg

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 31, 2013 6:22 PM   in reply to SeanH_bos

    You can't erase from background.  You need to right click and turn it into a layer first.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 31, 2013 6:28 PM   in reply to Curt Y

    You need to right click and turn it into a layer first.


    Or just drag the padlock icon to the little trash icon immediately below it (in CS6).

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  • Noel Carboni
    23,471 posts
    Dec 23, 2006
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 31, 2013 7:25 PM   in reply to SeanH_bos

    Seems to me, though I haven't done it personally, that there's a stacking mode in Photoshop Extended that allows you to remove the stuff that changes and keep the stuff that doesn't change.  Now, if your time lapse shot covers too broad a range of time it might be that things like shadows will change too much to use that.


    Look here for more info on how to stack multiple shots in Photoshop:




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