Capturing and Processing Night Photography

Lesson 20/20 - Light Painting: Edit Review


Capturing and Processing Night Photography


Lesson Info

Light Painting: Edit Review

The overall goal was number one, when we were out shooting we couldn't paint enough of this area during the exposure time. We had a very short exposure, we had a minute long exposure, and that didn't give me enough time to paint the whole scene. So we broke up the exposures into several different ones, as you saw it's probably eight or 10 different exposures painting different areas of the scene, going around and around. And then what we did was back in Lightroom we loaded all those images in and then we chose, we chose Photo. Edit In, Open As Layer. That takes all of these and opened them as layers in Photoshop. All right. Now once we have all those layers in our image what we did was we selected all the layers by clicking on the top layer, going all the way to the bottom, clicking on the bottom layer by holding down our Shift key. That selects all those layers. And then we chose Edit, Auto Align. And Photoshop took over and aligned those images that we misaligned due to the wind. The...

fierce wind, by the way. And next what we did was we simply chose a Lighten Blending mode from our blending mode options. All of our layers were selected, and when the Lighten Blending mode suddenly all of of those light areas popped out. Remember, that top layer is always opaque and is gonna obscure all of the layers below it. But as soon as we hit Lighten Blending mode on this all lightest parts of the image show through on the top. It's a real key for star stacking, for light painting, all types of different Photoshop artistry. So, the next thing we did was we started going through individual layers and finding out which ones were out of focus. And also, which ones we wanted to work on. And in that case we took adjustment layers and we began to brighten some areas, darken other ares, we masked out some of the adjustment layer when it was hitting a different part of the image. But most importantly, when you put an adjustment layer over one of the layers, and clip it, by hitting this little clip button, what it's doing is it's saying that adjustment layer is only going to work on that particular layer. That's a really important part of this. It saves you a lot of time making very intricate masks. There's no need to do that when everything is on a different layer, you can use these adjustment layers and clip them to that layer to only adjust one portion. So just to review this one is adjusting that white area in there. Notice I didn't have to go through and create masks to fix all of that, none of that. So, the last step was we did some overall adjustments up in here, and those are pretty straight forward, just general masking and using some paintbrush. But the other thing you'll notice I did a lot of, and this is something I do quite often is I reuse the masks. So we started out creating a mask, applying it to a layer and then inverting it, and that command we used was Command or Control I while you're on that mask. And so if you're on this mask and you hit Command I it flip flops the mask. Okay? So that's one easy way to do that. And then I copied that mask over again by holding down my Alt key and grabbing on the mask and dragging it to another layer, and that copied the mask. So those were all the different techniques that we used, that I used in all sorts of photography, not just night time photography. But I think they fit very well here. The last step I would do is kind of come in here and obviously crop some of those areas out that were misaligned. And what I'll do is I'll hit my Crop tool. And to make sure I get it all I'm gonna hold down my Alt and Shift key while I grab a corner. I'm gonna grab the corner and then hold down my. Bloody hell. I'm gonna grab the corner, start to pull in a little bit and then hold down my Alt and Shift key. And now what I can do is bring that in and out and maintain the same aspect ratio, and I'm coming in from the outside, so equal amounts from either end. And I'll just bring it in just enough to ensure that I'm getting rid of all those areas out there that have transparency in them. And hit my Enter key or hit the check button here to commit to the image. Okay. Now the last step we're gonna do is hit File, Save, and that will take us back into Lightroom. And at this point we'll have an image with all of these layers in it within Lightroom itself. Now going back to where we started it doesn't mean that you can't adjust that image in Lightroom, so here is our final image. And you can see it's separate from these others because it's Edit.tif rather than DNG. So this is our final image. And I could go in here and make some adjustments to exposure or do whatever I want. But I caution you. If you do that you may run into trouble if you need to go back into Photoshop. Now if you're doing something like you just need to make a quick print and you print this out on your printer and it's a little bit dark, sure you can go in your exposure and tap it up a little bit and make it somewhat brighter and make another print, but just do remember if you wanna make adjustments here and bring it back into Photoshop it's easiest to not make adjustments here. It's easier to make those adjustments back in Photoshop. All right. So folks, to recap. The weather is always going to determine what you can and what you can't shoot. And you really need to just keep your mind open. Sometimes you need to think out of the box. When we went out we had some tough conditions with a lot of cloud cover. That's not what we were expecting, we were hoping to shoot some stars, but it really provided us with some good examples of how you can sort of make lemons from lemonade. The idea here is that we started with our ambient exposures and set out F stop, our shutter speed and our iso for the ambient exposures, and then we either bracketed in the case of the bridge to control the highlights and shadows, or we set our ambient exposure and then began to paint in and add in light. But either way, we started, once we shot the images, we started in Lightroom, brought them into Photoshop using Open As Layers, created a bunch of different layers within one single, individual file, and ended up with two images that are not terribly bad, they're okay, making lemonade from lemons, but there is just a little bit about how to process your night photography images using both Lightroom and Photoshop. Hope y'all enjoyed that.

Class Description

Creating night images poses unique challenges, particularly for those who are more accustomed to daytime photography. From focusing in the dark to calculating long exposures, night photography requires the photographer to build new skills and polish off some old ones. But there’s more to night photography than just capturing the image in the field. Like with other photographic disciplines, post-processing often plays a vital role in crafting the final image. Join photographer, author and National Parks at Night instructor Tim Cooper as he shares what you’ll need to know while you’re in the field, including lens choice, camera settings and exposure, as well as how to use Photoshop® and Lightroom® to create a night image that dazzles.