I want to take a picture of a building, but there are always a few people walking in front of it. While I wait for a person to exit the frame, another person comes in from the other side.

So, I thought I would take several pictures (same position, same settings, same lighting) and combine them to get a perfect picture with only the building and no pesky humans.

What software could allow me to do this easily?

  • Gratis
  • Runs on Linux or Android
  • No big quality loss
  • Bonus if it can reposition the input images that do not have exactly the same conditions (for instance handheld camera, reflection from a passing car, lighting change depending on the clothes of the passers-by)
  • If Android, being part of a (gratis) camera app is acceptable.
  • If you have a "real" camera, then the answer is a tripod and a long exposure. I guess there's no reason why not to do that with a smartphone. See also photo.stackexchange.com – Mawg Feb 14 at 12:11
  • Is a superb Android Camera App with that feature built-in acceptable if the app is paid? My favorite one has that as "remove unwanted objects". – Izzy Feb 14 at 13:29
  • Related from photo: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/93136/… – user35622 Feb 14 at 19:43
  • @Mawg: I believe that long exposure is not optimal in term of image quality: Passing people affect the color of the result, especially people who stop to check their smartphone or walk toward the camera. I believe software can do better, possibly even handheld. – Nicolas Raoul Feb 15 at 4:54
  • 1
    @Mawg - there's probably a phone app out there that would let you get the shutter speed down to 15 minutes on your phone (most phones are fixed aperture, generally pretty open [~f/2.2]). But, I use 10 - 16 stops of ND for daylight LE's. I'm not sure how you would do that with a smart phone. Not only that, but the noise from that small a sensor could be epic. Median Blending is the way to go - but I'm with you, I do love my long exposure shots. – user35622 Feb 20 at 19:39

Hugin

Pros:

  • Gratis
  • Runs on Linux
  • No (big) quality loss
  • Can align images

Cons:

  • Some manual work involved

Howto:

Add the photos to a new project and put them all in a single image stack. You will need to add some Blend masks.

  • The Blend masks tutorial is very useful. The task is very time-intensive indeed, every small detail must be masked. Median blending would really help here, so I will try your other solution too. – Nicolas Raoul Feb 21 at 15:52

GIMP / GMIC

Pros:

  • Gratis
  • Runs on Linux
  • Quality Improvement (!)

Cons:

Howto:

  1. Add the individual aligned Images as Layers.
  2. Go to Layers → Blend [median]
  3. Apply

More information here.

  • 1
    What do you mean by "Quality Improvement"? – Nicolas Raoul Feb 16 at 9:39
  • Median Blending removes noise and moving objects – RoVo Feb 16 at 9:40
  • Could you please add the URL to align_image_stack? Also, don't list it as a cons: Simply list it as a part of the solution, and include it as the first step of your howto. Thanks! :-) – Nicolas Raoul Feb 16 at 9:42
  • align_image_stack is part of hugin. – RoVo Feb 16 at 9:44
  • Would you mind adding what is the align_image_stack command line and how to open the resulting .hdr file inside Gimp? Thanks a lot! – Nicolas Raoul Feb 21 at 15:59

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