Photography Tutorials

Removing People With A Long Exposure


Expose for longer and the people will definitely leave.

Often as a photographer you are faced with a scene that would be absolutely perfect were it not for one thing. People. The selfish people simply do not appreciate your artistic vision and understand that they are not required in your shot. This is particularly the case at a famous landmark, nature spot or city scene in front of a beautiful old building where you have no chance of keeping everyone out of your shot.

Not the sort of people to give up easily, we must consider our options for removing people.

Photoshop them out

The tools available in Photoshop to remove things from our images are becoming evermore sophisticated and effective. However in a many scenes this will detract from the overall quality of your final image so we turn our attention elsewhere.


We are not talking the indecent kind, although that could potentially work too, it is probably not recommended. No, we are talking about slotting your camera into Bulb mode and cranking the exposure right up to 11. With a nice long exposure you will very effectively remove anything from your shot that is moving. The longer the exposure time, the more chance you have of taking the slower moving, and temporarily stationary, people out.

Last year whilst in the Lake District I headed over to Castle Rigg Stone Circle with a solid plan. Thanks to it’s ancient history it is a very popular site and people are free to climb on the stones. It is always especially busy around sunset just when us photographers are trying to capture the best light. On my arrival, there were a lot of frustrated photographers trying to catch that tiny moment when no one was in shot. I knew it was not going to happen so I doubled up my 10 stop and 6 stop ND’s and went for an 8 minute exposure to remove even the most stubborn spoil sports who insisted on staying still for a good few minutes at a time. My relaxed attitude seemed to cause a few of the other shooters there some confusion as I stood back removing people with my long exposure. It turned into a bit of an impromptu workshop on how to capture long exposures and everyone would have gone away happy if only they had brought their tripods.

removing people with a long exposure

How to capture long exposures will be the next major video tutorial to be released here soon.

This article was first released on Medium at