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Milky Way

Lesson 10 from: Landscape Photo Editing with Adobe Lightroom Classic

Philip Ebiner

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Lesson Info

10. Milky Way

Next Lesson: Ocean Sunset

Lesson Info

Milky Way

Welcome to this new landscape editing tutorial. This one's a little different. We're editing this photo of a night sky, but I wanted to include it in this series of tutorials because I think you might be editing a night photo that includes some stars or the Milky Way as part of your landscape photography. So really the point of this was to enhance the milky way and make it pop. So let's go ahead and start editing. We're gonna go from something like this on the left to something like this on the right. If you're following along, you can open up the Milky Way photo and follow along. So the main thing with a night sky star or Milky Way photo is that you have to play a lot with the exposure and potentially even the color and sharpness and clarity to make those stars pop. Now, this is a photo that was shot and shared on we saturate dot com. It's to be completely honest, not the best photo to work with because things are a little bit soft, the the focus. I I'm not exactly sure where it was t...

hese trees in the foreground. Uh and the stars in the sky are not completely sharp. So we're dealing with that, but that might be a situation you're in. So as an editor, it's important to know how we can play around with those with any sort of night sky or even milky way photo. I like having foreground elements that help us set the scene and also help frame the photo. So I like how these trees right here kind of frame the bottom of this photo, I might go in and just crop in just a little bit because I don't like how that little tree on the edge is popping out a little distracting and maybe even rotate just a little bit so that it's a little bit more across the bottom straight instead of kind of curved up the side, that's a personal preference for you. All right. So now let's jump straight into our exposure editing. So what do you think we're going to have to do with this photo? We're going to have to crush the blacks, the darks, but also boost the whites. This is one situation where dragging up and cranking up the white slider is actually what we're going to probably want to do to make those stars really pop. So that's the first thing I'm doing is dragging up my whites, dragging down my blacks, dragging down my shadows. And then also I'm gonna bring down my highlights really creating a lot of contrast. Now, this is also a case where I might just go ahead and crank up that contrast slider to get uh that contrast uh and enhance that even more. Instead of just the sliders down here, overall exposure, I'm gonna leave as is and that's looking pretty good. I don't really like the with any sort of long exposure wherever you are, you get this light pollution. Uh Typically, uh this could be the moon, it could be the sun ri sunset from, you know, um a few hours ago and you still get this light pollution or it could be a city in the distance. So playing with some graduated filters and things like that will also help uh along with this highlight slider. So just seeing the before and after we see a lot of, of difference and the stars start to pop even more, I'm going to increase my clarity. And as I do that, you really start to see these stars start to pop and I'm gonna crank this really far farther than I typically would also de Haes. I'm going to do that as well because these two sliders are just going to bring out some of that more that detail in the sky. Now, I think this is a little bit dramatic, but instead of toning this down, which will get rid of some of that detail, what I'm going to do later is some noise reduction, which sort of softens what I've done, but still allows us to have the detail of the stars in terms of overall color. I think that this is going to help a lot by decreasing our temperature to make the sky a little bit more just plain blue. All right. So this is looking pretty good. Let's jump down to the noise reduction. As I saw in the detail panel, you see that there's a ton of noise, we could zoom in here, just a ton of noise in the sky. And so while we're balancing, trying to sharpen things, boosting the sharpening is going to help with the edges of these stars, make them a little bit more crisper rather than soft. But when we do that, we add noise, one thing that you can do is if you crank up the sharpening and then also crank up this masking, what it's going to try to do is soften the background, the colors that are sort of similar, which in this photo is the night sky. But it's also going to try to make the individual elements of this photo which are the stars and keep those sharp. But still a ton of noise reduction natural to get when you are shooting the milky way you have long exposure, potentially higher iso. And so what we're going to do is crank up the noise reduction. Now, as you saw what automatically happened was we lost some of that detail in the stars here. So we wanna be a little careful with this one other thing you can do just if you want a really kind of cool effect with night photos is just to crank the noise direction all the way up which softens everything completely. But you still have these stars really popping out so you can see before and after but you lose too many stars. And for me, I'm not going to do that for this photo, but it could be a cool sort of effect for a future photo of yours. So that's pretty good. But how do we make the milky way which you can kind of see going across the sky like this? How do we make that pop even more? One idea I had was a vignette. So originally I went down here, I added a vignette to try to focus in on our, our milky way. But the size and shape of the vignette wasn't really what I was looking for. So I decided what I wanted to do was create a custom vignette with a radial filter. So clicking radial filter, I'm going to create a sort of very skinny oval, rotate it. So it's going the size of our and shape of our milky way. See what it's selecting. We actually have to make this quite bigger. So we're not really affecting the milky way as much crank up that feathering even more, something like that's pretty good. And now we can drop the overall exposure and the highlights even more. So we're not getting as much of that light pollution and it's creating a nice sort of effect here in the sky. And here we can even uh increase this noise reduction filter uh for this specific filter even well to so even more to soften the edges. So that's looking pretty good. Um But I want to use the same sort of effect to enhance our milky way. So what I can do is duplicate this, invert it, reset all of the effects by double clicking effect. And here we can play around with our individual filters to edit just the milky way. So see here, now we are just affecting what's inside. I'm actually gonna make this smaller, crank up the feathering even more. Let's bring it in the edges just a little bit just like that cool. So now what can we do to make our milky way pop out count or intuitively? You might think that creating more contrast will help and maybe keeping contrast is good, but actually boosting the overall exposure of this part of the sky. As you can see as I do that starts to make it pop and look more like the milky way. Now, when I do that though, we lose a little bit of uh the contrast that I like. So increasing the overall exposure, but then bringing back down our blacks is going to help a lot also the milky way and these kind of night photos tend to have a little bit of magenta in them. So increasing a little bit, some people go a little bit too far and then there's stars milky way look completely purple. But adding a little bit actually helps here, we can also play specifically with clarity on this part of the photo. So increasing that can help. Now, going the other way is going to make it sort of a little bit blurrier. Maybe that's the style you're going for. For me, I want to add some sharpness and detail. So I'm increasing the clarity now, same thing with the haze that can help, but here you gotta be too a little careful because as you can see as I crank up the haze, it gets rid of some of those stars in the sky. So I wanna just go a little bit, something like that. And then here we can also go a little bit wilder with our sharpness, crank up the sharpness just for this portion, which doesn't add a lot of noise to the entire photo, which is a good thing, but it makes the edges of our stars a little bit better too. So here we have our milky way like this. Now, I'm looking at this, I think the vignette overall for everything else looks a little bit dark just up here in the top right corner. So I might move this up, something like this. See, I, I like the vignette on the bottom, but the top is a little bit dark. So to reverse that I might use a graduated filter for the top part of this photo like this, just boost the exposure just a little bit, something like that. See what I'm selecting and editing. If I go too far, you can kind of see, but I don't want the vignette to be too much. I think that vignette I created was a little bit too powerful. So bring that up. And what I could do also is instead keep that vignette a little subtle like that and also do a graduated filter for the bottom half where we bring down my highlights. I know I'm going a little fast in this tutorial, but by now, if you followed the entire series of lessons, I hope you are kind of capable of following along. All right. So that's looking pretty good to me. We can see before, let's do the before and after before, after you can do side by side before and after in this edit, I don't think I have as much of the Magenta as my original edit, but I think this looks actually pretty good sharper things look. Um just it pops I like for this photo. This is a good way to kind of see left to right the before and after and really on the right, you can see that the milky way pops a ton more. So this was a really fun edit. I hope you enjoyed it as well. There's so much you can do with these photos, even though it's pretty simple, cranking up that contrast, playing with the clarity, probably wouldn't have had to play with the clarity and sharpness as much if this was a sharp image and the focus was uh more perfect on the stars, but nevertheless, was able to, I think kind of fix this another thing that you kind of have to pay attention to. And I'll just mention is that with that noise reduction that we did and playing with the sharpness and caring about the noise and grain that you have. It really depends on what your use is for this photo. If it's just gonna be a thumbnail for a video, if it's just gonna be on your Instagram, you don't have to worry about that too much compared to if you are printing it out or you're putting it on a big screen where you'll actually see a lot of this noise that you might want to, you know, crank up that noise reduction even more and get rid of anyways. I hope you enjoyed this lesson as always and have a beautiful day.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Practice_Photos_for_Landscape_Editing_Course.zip

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