Car Trails: Merging Multiple Exposures
I love shooting in the city's. I find it a real challenge to be able to work with city lights and with sky and with with all the traffic, it could be difficult to balance everything. Um and so I find it challenging and I really, quite enjoy it. I took this when I was living in Washington, D. C, this is Pennsylvania at down here. And of course, we got the capital building back up there on the hill. And you can see that because of the time of day that I was shooting, which was just about dusk role was desk a little bit past us, but not quite pitch black, Um that the length of the exposure, which waas only 30 seconds long, did not give me star trail or car trails that were complete. So I'm missing a gap here in this image. Also missing a gap in the reds here and in here, or missing a gap in. There's no reds here, but we can layer them all together to create a more fluid star trail throughout the scene. Now, what I also did, as you can see, is I used several different exposure, so here I w...
as a little bit brighter and then thes two, I was a little bit darker because I wanted to be able to preserve the values in the frame. So here in this frame, you know, some of these lights, maybe a little blown out the capital in the background is certainly blown out. But I like the shadow detail that's coming out of the rooftops. Will. In the next image. Thes lights look a little bit better, but all the shadow detail is gone in here and in here. But I also have a little bit better detail in the Capitol building, which I think for me, is going to be important. So we'll blend these three images together in a very similar fashion that we did in the last image. So we'll start by selecting these three and going up to photo at it in open as layers in photo shop. So we've got all those you know. By the way, let me just backtrack to show you guys what I what I just did. When an image opens in photo shop for the first time, it typically has this window around. It's called a title bar and, ah, lot of times it'll be it'll be quite large. And what I like to do is tap my f key. That changes the screen mode so that I have a pure gray background. In this way, when I zoom in and out of my image, I can just kind of move it around by pressing my space bar down with my hand. It's just sort of the way that I work. Um, I thought I'd share that with you. Now The brightest image ended up being on top. And let me just double click properties here to close that panel up so I could see all my layers. The brightest one is on the top, and then I've got the darker ones underneath and you can see this. Car trails are different in each one. Well, there's a couple of things that I can do here. So, for example, if I just go and click on this top layer and then click on the bottom layer while holding my shift key, I can select all the layers and choose lighten once again, just like we do with star trails. And I can hit, lightened and suddenly bone. There we go. We've got all these car trails going through here. Now, Um, the only problem that we have now is that we've also allowed some of the lights to be a little bit too bright. And actually, they're looking pretty all right in this case, but our capital is still a bit blown out and that I'm not overly fond off. All right, so let me just take the brightest one off for a second, and you're going to see how dark the rest of that frame actually is, right? So this is the darker frames. But when I bring it, when I turn it back on by clicking the eyeball, I get a lot more shadow detail in there. And that's kind of what I'm wanting from this particular scene. I don't want it to be overbearingly bright, but I just wanted to be a black, absolute black mass either. So, by selecting all of these layers and changing our blending mode to lighten, we were able to get a somewhat more continuous car trail throughout the frame, again, remembering I only had 32nd exposures on each one of those shots. And it's just not in long enough time for a car to navigate all that happened down Pennsylvania Avenue. All right, so next comes the fixing the capital. And while this may not seem like a big deal to people living outside of D. C, we know that there's plenty of detail in there. And if I take this layer off, you're going to see that there is actually a good amount of detail in that photograph. So what we can do is simply punch a hole through this layer. Now, if you want to think of it very simply, we could just grab an eraser tool. And if I was on this layer and I used my eraser tool, it would just be erasing that actual layer and showing me what's underneath. And it would look something like this, right? That's what it's seeing. It's going right down into these bottom layers, but that's a dangerous way to work. If you make a mistake, you don't have a lot of, uh, you don't have a lot of room to maneuver after the fact, so I generally do not use my eraser tool, and I also just noticed, as some of you watching may have that the tripod must have slightly moved in between these exposures. So what I'm gonna do is once again click on this upper layer, then shift Click on this lower layer and a line those layers together by going up to edit auto mine layers and click OK, that is going to be crucial. If I punch a hole in the upper layer, it's looking down in the other layer. They won't be quite even. All right. So we decided that we're not going to use, um, the eraser tool. But what will instead use is a mask. A mask will do the same thing. White will let this part show through and this part will be black, and that will show us the bottom capital. So to start with, we may want to choose something like the quick, select tool. And I'm gonna click on that layer, notice how we have the sort of a no smoking sign here. I'm going to click on that upper layer. And now I can actually make the tool function. And don't be afraid to zoom in. You guys. We gotta we want to be accurate as possible, So I'm just gonna click in there and that does it pretty darn good jobs right out of the that was just one click. So now let's see what happens when I create my mask. And once again, I need to be on that layer. So I quit my mask, and it is actually just the opposite of what I want, right? So before, after, that's not at all what I want. So my mask is opposite of what I need, and that's not a problem. All I'm gonna do is click on the mask and then if I'm on a Macintosh, I'll hit command I and a PC control I, and now you can see we've got detail in the building. So before, after and once again, we have control. Now it seems to me that the top of that building looks a little fake because it's kind of dark. Not too bad. But in an effort to make things look perfect, I could click on this mask and I'm gonna all to click on the mask, and you could see that this is the black part of the mask. So if I felt like this ended up being too dark, I would need to paint with white So click on my master, get it back Grab my paintbrush and flip flop my color here, toe white And of course, wherever I paint is gonna get rid of that. I'm gonna change my capacity toe 0% wherever I paint gets rid of that and you can see that I just painted into the black portion of the mask. So what you might want to do is take little bites out of it. You know, maybe I don't want to be at 100% but maybe 50% kind of just sort of blends those two together and gives me the look I want. And I think that looks a little bit more natural when we come back here. Yeah, it's got a much more natural look to it now. So we were able to use the brighter exposure for all the lights out in here in the shadows and details. And here, But we're double to use the darker exposure for the actual capital itself. And when we combined all three together and change the blending moto lighten that allowed us to get complete car trails throughout the entire city