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Light Painting

Lesson 18 of 19

Photoshop: Mask Adjustments

Tim Cooper

Light Painting

Tim Cooper

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Lesson Info

18. Photoshop: Mask Adjustments


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
2 Camera Considerations Duration:29:57
4 Light Painting Accessories Duration:09:32
5 The Color of Light Duration:10:43
6 Focusing in the Dark Duration:24:38
7 Light Painting Techniques Duration:28:33

Lesson Info

Photoshop: Mask Adjustments

So if you had joined us, during the live shoot, you will have seen that, this took me many shots. I tried and I tried and I kept trying to paint this pipe and it wasn't coming out right and I was complaining about being uneven and in the end, I think I got something where I wanted. But ultimately, this image entailed having to paint one area here, to get that correct, then painting the pipe to get that correct, then coming in and illuminating the top pipe just a little bit, I didn't want it to be as bright, then in another frame over here painting the grass. I couldn't do it all in one shot. So these were all my attempts to come up with it. So now my choice is to choose the images that I need, to combine together. So one is the grass, let's see one is this final lighting, wait, that's not what I wanted to do. One is, uh I'm going to get out of this survey mode here. Sorry about that. Let me just do this. And bring these up a little closer. Alright, that one I want, that one has a one s...

tar, that one is uneven painting, uneven painting, uneven painting, this is the one where I just gently illuminated the background pipe. Uneven painting, good grass and good painting there. Alright, so, I've labeled these with the one stars, of the ones that I want. That'll be those photographs right there. And that's the four that's gonna make it into the final. So, at this point, do remember though folks, I would go in and adjust these images in Lightroom first. Remember we want to do all of our global adjustments that we can in Lightroom before we eventually go into Photoshop so, let's just take a quick peek here of maybe one of the brighter ones. Let's go to this, and I'll go to the develop module, and say first of all, where do we start? Is camera neutral good? Do we want to go to camera standard? Does that look better? Mhmm, it's a little contrasty. Camera landscape is going to be even more contrasty, that's just way too much. I think I'm going to try camera standard. Alright, now next we can come up and say well, how do the highlights look? How do the brightness look? It feels a little bit dark for me, even though it is light painted, so ill bring up my exposure just a touch. And I don't want this to get too terribly blown out, although that is in the fog, so I could bring my highlights down a little bit. And now I'm going to look at my histogram, make sure I have some good overall, looks like I am blowing out some highlights here, where is that, just tiny little bits in there. So we can stand an increase in the white, and the reason I'm going for that increase in the white again you guys it's just to expand that overall contrast Let's anchor our blacks by pulling those down, and then left our shadows up a little bit. Alright, that should do it, now the trick is I wanna apply that across all of the images so, all of my four images are selected down here. One, two, three, four. This is the most selected so when I hit synchronize, it's gonna take all the adjustments and apply it across all those photographs. Hit synchronize. Okay now, when I return to the grid module, and say photo, edit in, open as layers in Photoshop, once again it's gonna drag all four of these photographs, create a copy and it's gonna turn it into a TIFF, and gonna put these four TIFF files into one single photo in Photoshop. Alright, so here we are, just magnify that a little bit. Here's our layers palette, so first thing we'll do is auto align, I don't remember kicking my tripod, who knows? Perhaps I did, so lets select all four those layers, and choose, you before you guys go ahead and do that, you can just physically, manually look at this. Take that one off, does it move, oh it does look at that it did move a little bit in between. That's it, don't even have to do auto align. Edit, auto align layers, auto, click okay. Let Photoshop work its magic. Alright, all these layers are already selected, all we have to do is go up and choose from normal, choose lighten, and boom, all of our light painting comes out in one photograph. And at this point you could call it done. But, we're ambitious, I don't like that gray sky. I like the color of the grass, I like the color of the pipe, I don't like that gray sky. So, what I'm going to do is make a selection, I'm gonna use the quick select tool and by the way you guys, there's lots of selection tools, this is only one, we could spend six hours just simply talking about different selections probably even much longer than that, days. So I'm just showing you just the rudimentary selection tool here in the quick selection tool. I'm gonna click on it, and click on one of my top most photographs, and just use my bracket key to enlarge it, and then click and drag, and that selects that area. Click, drag through, click and drag through, click and drag through, click and drag through. Same thing here, and choose these little areas, and now I can come in tight, and just select that area there, and same thing here. And that's gonna be roughly what I need, anything else I think I could probably paint in. Let's just grab this area back here as well. Alright now, at this point with the selection active, if I create an adjustment layer, it will turn that selection into the adjustment layer, and mask so once again, we'll go to color balance, and you can see our mask that we created. White is where the change will come through so we are going to alter the sky here. This is my knob so when I grab on that, I get my color balance up here and now I can push this towards blue again to make this sky a little bit more interesting. That's getting close to purple, so I'll take my red slider and move it to cyan a little bit. And that should do the trick. So we turned a cloudy night, raining the whole time, into a final photograph by taking multiple shots, light painting differently in each shot, and bringing them into Photoshop, blending them together in light and blending mode, and using a quick select tool to create a decent selection and turn it into a mask with our color balance tool to darken the sky and make it a little bit more blue. So as you can see folks, Photoshop is super powerful but also it's really easy just to use that light and blending mode and combine these images especially for light painting. You've seen several examples now and this is a staple of how i work with light painting typically I like to tackle bigger projects and I just can't get around to all those places in one shot. So, Lightroom, Photoshop, really powerful people, you need to learn how to use them, let them become your friends, it's gonna expand your possibilities of what you can do out in the field, not to mention it's a ton of fun. So if you guys are looking for more information about light painting or photography in general, you can see I have several books, one of them which I co authored with my friend Gabriel Biederman, that was a great fun project. That's Night Photography, Snapshots to Great Shots. I got HDR Photography Snapshots to Great Shots in addition to a couple E-books, the Realistic HDR Image and The Magic of Light Painting, and both of those are going to take you much further down into processing in the light painting itself. If you're looking to follow me, here's where you can find me, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and of course don't forget the entire National Parks at Night team, it's a fabulous group of people, I'm really honored to be apart of them, check us out, check out our website, if you guys sign up for our mailing list, you get this pretty cool book that we put together for your benefit, certainly worth your time in checking it out. Thanks for sticking with us here on night photography week, hope you've enjoyed this session. Our session was all about light painting you guys, and it was my pleasure to talk to you guys about it, and teach you a little about it. Just remember, the most important thing, is no fear. We covered everything now from you basic camera setups, to getting out in the field, to have to focus in the dark. We've talked about how you're gonna light paint, how you're gonna check your color, change your white balance, and we've brought it back home to the computer and the processing, so you guys have seen it all now. So as they say, get out there an conquer. Don't be afraid, just go out there and experiment, and have a lot of fun.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

Shooting at night can create dynamic landscapes or portraits through long exposures. By using a wide range of tools, you can add light to your night photographs to create dynamic highlights or unique shapes. Painting with light opens a door into night photography that will keep you out until the wee hours of the morning. Tim Cooper is the author of The Magic of Painting with Light and in this course, you’ll learn:

  • The basics of light painting from accessories to camera considerations 
  • How to use test shots to capture your focus and exposure in the dark 
  • How to post-process your night images in Lightroom 
  • How to use layer stacking in Photoshop to build up light in your photographs  


DiDi Hendley

The BEST class ever! Learned so much--Tim is a great instructor. I highly recommend to the creative photog looking to expand his/her arsenal of tools, talents and products. Appreciated the patience and thoroughness that Tim offered students. Great pacing and information. I can see how I can very easily take his instruction out at night and produce something. I also appreciate that this session demonstrated images that weren't created in total darkness.

Gene Chamberlin

Tim is an outstanding teacher - I love his style, thorough and basic without being too elementary or condescending. I will be looking for other classes by Tim in the future. I'm am excited to apply the things I have learned from Tim and create my own style from the tools he has given. I never would have give much thought to light painting in the past. I have already notice a change in the way I scout my shots, now that I have added light painting into my tool box. Thanks for sharing your experience with the world Tim. Gene

Andrew Gow

Really enjoyable course. Clear instruction and surprisingly easy to put what I learnt into practice, which I did for the first time last night. This is also my first exposure to Photoshop, which initially put me off buying the course. However, Tim is a great instructor and explains his approach very clearly, so as well as an introduction to light painting it's a great introduction to what Photoshop can do.