Post Processing: Lathe Arch


Astro Landscape Photography


Lesson Info

Post Processing: Lathe Arch

These are the images that we shot of Lathe Arch. We've got the ambient exposure with the Milky Way on the left and then two light painting images on the right. And I have to admit that the ambient exposure is a bit underexposed and again because of the heat it's pretty noisy. It is 25 seconds f3.5 6400, so ordinarily this would be about the right exposure but in this case it's, even in the sky, it's pretty noisy. And let's see, the other images. This one is about a minute 22 seconds, f4 ISO and another light painting image, slightly different, 138 seconds f4 100. So these were made without moving the camera in between with the idea of combining one of the light painting images or more with the sky image in post processing. The only reason we didn't do this all in one shot is because the way I was kind of wedge down in a crevice below the arch there was no way that I could get out and do any kind of light painting in the 25 seconds that I had to do the ambient exposure. Even if I had b...

een, if I had the camera remotely and had been up above when we started the exposure it was so dark that I really had to be very careful crossing back and forth between the two sides of the arch. And it just wouldn't have worked in a single exposure. We certainly could have done this as a single exposure if we were going for star trails but that wasn't the case. I'm gonna do pretty minimal processing on this image I believe because of the noise in the background. But I'll boost up the exposure just a little bit. About a little more than half a stop. Play around with the white balance a bit, try the eyedropper tool on the center of the galaxy. Gives it more blue effect. And that's 4250 plus 5, where did we start? Not much different, 4400 plus 4. I think we're not really gonna get ideal color in the sky. There's a lot of this bandy noise in here because of the heat and the lack of exposure overall. So I think I'm gonna go with this. This looks pretty good. Now I'm not concerned with the landscape at all. I'm really only interested in the sky on this particular frame. So I'm certainly gonna crank up the color noise reduction all the way. Luminesce a little bit and sharpening a little bit to compensate for that. I'm gonna toggle that, wait for it to load here and then toggle it on and off. So there's all that color noise. And there it is once we've removed it. Let's see if that luminesce reduction is doing much. A little bit, not much. I don't really wanna take this grain structure out of the background. What I was hoping to do was get some of this color banding out of the way but that's probably not going to happen. Alright, lens corrections are usual profile and chromatic aboration and there we go. Again increase the contrast a little bit. Add a little bit of clarity to make those stars jump out just a little bit. I tend not to go above 25 or so on clarity except on local adjustments. Maybe bring down the vibrance just a little bit or the saturation. Try to clean up that sky a bit. Not really having a whole lot of effect. Alright so I think that's about all I want to do for this image. Because again I'm only interested in the sky. Okay let's take a look at this one. And the next one, tell you what, why don't we look at the two of these in the compare mode. So I'll select the two of them, press the C key, press the tab key to get a little more real estate and see what do we like about each one of these images. Overall I think I like this one better, maybe a little bit more information in the foreground. You got this little oops where the flashlight came through here and it looks like a little bit of a spot here. Some ghosting or flare, maybe that was me getting the light on myself a little bit. Not a big deal. You know what I think we're gonna do is maybe use little bits of each of these images. And I'm not sure what but we'll try working with both of them. One thing I know that we do wanna do for sure is get rid of the stars. Because these star trails are not going to work with our astrolandscape image. So we could do this as I've done before with local adjustments in Lightroom, just using a brush or a gradient to get rid of those but since we've already done that let's try it in Photoshop. I'll do a different method this time. So let's go back and do some quick adjustments on both of these images. I'm going to do our lens corrections first. And I like the color balance, it looks good. Just gonna bring down the highlights just a little bit. Maybe a slight local adjustment here, highlights, exposure. Bring this down, bring this down just a little bit more. Okay. And let's see what we can do about this one. That should be a pretty easy area to clone out. Move it up here. Okay I'm not gonna fuss with it too much because I know we've got that other image to use this area if we want to. That's it, we're not really gonna do much else to this one, at least here in Lightroom. And next similar treatment I think, lens corrections, basic adjustment, bring down the highlights just a little bit. Local adjustment brush. Bring down the highlights and exposure on this brightly exposed area. We may or may not use that. Okay. That's about it. Select all the images. Photo edit in. Open as layers in Photoshop. Alright, we have the three images as a layered Photoshop document. I want the sky to be our background image so I'm gonna bring that down to the bottom. Ordinarily I'd leave the blending mode set to normal but in this case because we have foreground illuminated in one and the sky in another, I think it'll actually work pretty well to change these to lighten. Yup, how about that. Okay, so now we can turn off the light painting images one at a time and see which one we like better. So this is and 51. I'm pretty partial to this one I do believe. What do you think? What I don't particularly like is this hot spot in here. And i think I wanna bring up the foreground just a little bit. Alright, well we need to get rid of these stars so let's create a layer mask. And we'll take our paintbrush tool, paint with black. We've got 100% opacity, 100% flow, brush, let's make that 900 pixels. We don't have to be real careful here because most of what's remaining is black. We're just interested in getting rid of the stars. The black area that remains is not gonna be a problem for us. Smaller brush for in here. And just removing any trace of those stars in there. Alright now let's do the same thing with the other layer. My adjustment mask on there. Do the exact same thing. Wipe out the stars. And because we were shooting this at a lower ISO of only the brightest stars are showing up so that's why it's pretty easy to do this here. Got a little sloppy on that one. But look at that. Okay, now I like some of this foreground but I don't want all of it. So I'm gonna take another brush with reduced opacity, 37%, move the flow down to about 40% or so and I'm gonna make sure this brush is nice and soft, it is. Got 500 pixels and if I brush across here I'm painting on this mask right here, it's just gonna slowly take this layer away which is what I'm looking for. Alright. Okay, alright and I wanna get rid of this area too. That is on this layer. So I'm gonna take a smaller brush, the same softness and low opacity and flow and just, we're on the right one. No we're not on the right one, we wanna be on this one. There we go. Just kinda tone that down. Alright now we bring the other one back in and I take off a bit more off of this bottom. Just bring it down a little bit more. There we go, it looks pretty good. I'm pretty happy with that. I don't see any evidence of those star trails from the other images. The light painting looks good. So I'm gonna save this file. Go back into Lightroom, put a little bit of post crop vignette on it and maybe a final touch here and there but I think we're pretty close. And we're back in Lightroom with our almost final image. Back to the develop module. And I know I wanna put post crop vignette on there. Yep that's doing it. Bring the midpoint in, feather it. And I think I wanna crop this just a little bit. I'm gonna take a little bit off the bottom, a little bit off the left, a little bit off the right and keep the top just the way it is. Alright and the vignette moves with it. That looks pretty darn good. Back here one last time to the basic panel and just pull down those highlights just a little bit. Okay. There we go. Here's our astrolandscape image of Lathe Arch.

Class Description

The solar system and the magic within it can be seen with more than just a telescope. Capturing the milky way and the movement of the solar systems around us can make for engaging and out of this world photography. In this class you’ll learn:

  • What equipment to use and setting your composition in the field 
  • How to find your focus and exposure in the dark 
  • How to capture star trails and the best opportunities based on the lunar calendar 
  • How to capture the Milky Way and create striking panoramas of the night sky.  
Lance Keimig is the author of Night Photography- Finding Your Way In The Dark and leads photo tours around the world. 



The classes are full of extremely important technical information that is delivered in a concise, clear manner. It is very difficult to grasp it all in one sitting. I have taken classes before in photography and I love the learning model with Creative Live .I can go back and review the information at my own pace and take notes as I go- I can even rewind and review if I miss something. This is a great collection of material and I would highly recommend purchasing the entire bundle - great job on the selection of fantastic teachers and putting together such a fabulous package on night photography.


A tremendous amount of information crammed into one single course - it can be only done by CreativeLive! Along with having such a profound knowledge and skills in a particular field, Lance Keimig has an amazing teaching style as well - he is very clear, concise and thorough. I strongly recommend this set of classes to anyone who is interested to acquire some general (or expand their existing!) knowledge of astrophotography and night sky shooting. Last but not the least, I want to congratulate the CreativeLive for teaming up with an excellent instructor to create and deliver this STELLAR and production-wise very demanding course!