Today's tourism is often marketed as an experience of discovery, an opportunity to find locales previously unknown to yourself and your social group. And with image sharing now so easy online, anyone can claim themselves to be an expert on the places they've visited. But our photos would have much more authority if it weren't for those pesky, anonymous tourists in the background! Adobe recently revealed a feature called Monument Mode that will automatically do just that at its MAX Conference earlier this month.
A demonstration of the technology, one of the several Adobe is brewing up in their labs and decided to demonstrate, included Parks and Recreation's Nick Offerman and Adobe Communications Manager Kim Chambers.
As presenter Ashutosh Jagdish Sharma took multiple exposures, and Offerman enjoyed hamming it up and pretending to be an "annoying tourist," the algorithm, which appears to be able to distinguish between stationary and movable objects, worked its magic. By zeroing in on people (and perhaps, one day, other distracting background elements like cars) that flit across the frame, the feature, as shown in the demonstration, gradually diminishes them to small smudges and then to nothing.
Serious photographers have always, of course, had their way of doing this manually, usually with Adobe's main gift to the world, Photoshop. As PetaPixel pointed out, if you take enough exposures of a scene, it is possible to stack the shots and use Photoshop's median adjustment in conjunction with the clone and heal tools. This method has a flaw in common with Monument Mode: both require a tripod for consistent shot-to-shot quality. Perhaps this will be remedied as Adobe continues to work on the feature.
However, Monument Mode is more likely to be destined for a mobile app, considering its user-friendly nature and the fact that it can work in real time. And because Adobe is agnostic when it comes to its relationship with mobile devices, it could appear anywhere.
Along with features like Apple's Live Photos, this feature is just another example of how smartphone cameras, despite the consensus that they remain inferior hardware-wise to many standalone, continue to innovate with their software. This could possibly change the way many people take photos.