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There's a lot of compositing software available. Is there any that can remove telephone wires from a still image?

The idea is to shoot still images the same scene from several different vertical positions. That will produce a sequence of images in which the wires are in different places with respect to the scene behind them. Theoretically, there's enough image information there to reconstruct the scene with the wires gone.

Any ideas about how to combine several images this way? Are there any automated tools for this? Are there any good ways to use Photoshop with multiple images, cloning one onto the other?

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    Do you have an example image with telephone wires that you are having trouble removing via Photoshop? There are a ton of different ways you could achieve the solution. – dpollitt Sep 6 '16 at 3:00
  • Take a look at this free plugin: vicanek.de/imageprocessing/wireworm.htm – Rafael Sep 7 '16 at 4:43
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If the background is sky, or is lighter than the wires, then stack your multiple images, align them and then for each wire you want to remove:

  • with the image with the wire below and image without the wire above
  • set layer blend mode to "lighten"
  • that will show the top layer's lighter pixels in place of the wire
  • mask as necessary

It may be tricky to align the layers in Photoshop, since the automatic alignment will no doubt use the wires as contrasty object to align, which you don't want, and each layer will have slight perspective changes.

The healing brush, using the content aware option, will remove wires pretty effectively from a single image. Might be worth a try before resorting to multiple images.

Here's a contrived example. Two copies of the same image, so perfectly aligned, with "wires" added in at different levels.

enter image description here

enter image description here

I layered the two images, and set the top blending mode to "Lighten" and the wire disappears. This could be done with simple masking, but this method avoids masking altogether if the background is consistently lighter than the wires.

enter image description here

  • The problem with your example is that you used two copies of the same image and then artificially added the "wires". That makes it easy to get the background that appears behind the "wires" from the exact point where the photo was taken. In the case of removing real wires, there's no way to get the actual image data that would appear behind the wires. Using a shot from a different viewpoint is probably the best you can do (and not illustrated here), but it's not very different from just pasting in pixels taken from elsewhere in the same image. – Caleb Sep 6 '16 at 18:13
  • Exactly. It's a contrived example to demonstrate the use of Lighten blend mode. And given that a real set of photos will not have the same exact pixels like this example, you're bound to get some wire-shaped artifacts with bands of lighter or darker pixels that the surrounds. It does at least give you a better starting point for cloning or healing – MikeW Sep 6 '16 at 18:41
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If the wire is totally separate without any other element (like a perched bird) or mingled with something else (like a tree), simplest way is to do a clone-stamp... This applies to any unwanted object (rather pixels) present in the screen. However if the wire separates a contrasting element, this would be very time consuming process, but if you want such thing, then time is ok... Also works for situations where you have just a single image (past) or cannot take another angle (present/future).

For future shots, if possible, use a wide aperture and focus on somewhere in the building etc, so that wires get a natural defocus.. But for typical landscape shots, the aperture is quite narrow which prevents this..

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