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Mastering Long Exposure Photography

Lesson 11 of 11

Post-Processing Long Exposure Streaky Lights

Matt Kloskowski

Mastering Long Exposure Photography

Matt Kloskowski

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Lesson Info

11. Post-Processing Long Exposure Streaky Lights

Lesson Info

Post-Processing Long Exposure Streaky Lights

here's really the two shots that we finished up with. All right, So what I did is is I kind of got I kind of got the photo where I liked it. And that was that was pretty much the last shot that we, uh, that we ended up with, Um I just kind of hung around for a couple more minutes. Not that much longer. But I took another photo, and I got a longer shutter speed. So if you were to look at the lights here, not bad. I mean, pretty streaky, but I took another photo, and I got a little bit of a longer shutter speed. And I was too lazy to take the filter off and put something dark around, but I was able to get some more going on here. So what I thought I'd do is just kind of show you you you already know how to merge them together, But a little bit of the process of why the reason why is that? I had to over expose to get a little bit longer for shutter speed. So what I did is I just knew Well, I got I got a safe sky back here because the sky is pretty much gone. Yeah, it's really going to sta...

rt to degrade over there. So I knew that I had a safe enough sky back in this photo here. So let's do a couple of Ah, a couple of quick and it's I'll just go through the panels here. Um, open up our shadows. Remember, this is gonna be the photo that we get the sky and maybe even the buildings from but will open up the shadows Quite a bit. A little bit of blacks option are all click Get my black in my whites Remember, the sun has gone down. So to me that's kind of like that twilight that blew our someone a favor. The bluer tones for All right. Look, I gotta Sorry. I know all my good. All my good graduated filters over here, So let's try. There we go. Gonna try just for a second, cause I know I have one called the Blue hour. They actually like this one better. There we go. So got the graduated filter on their You know what? I haven't showed. I didn't show this yesterday and I didn't show you the guys of this today, Um, you know that the graduated filter is gonna put that line across. I showed you a few ways where we can We can kind of combat that by boosting the shadows and what not? But there's a brush so you can actually brush this away inside a late room. See, when I have the graduated filter selected, there's a brush option. So if I turned the brush option on, I'll zoom into the photo here. I turned the brush option on. What I can do is go into erase mood. I can erase it away. Not gonna go through and do. The whole thing is that it takes me a minute or two to do. But I can go in there any race, the effect, everything in the foreground. So that's a fairly that's a newer feature inside a light, but I think it's in light room CC and six Onley toe have a brush there, but it's a really neat way toe. Apply that effect and have to not have to go into Photoshopped to remove it. So we could get a lot done right here. Um, all right, so we're edit that photo So now let's go over to this photo where we really just want the lights. So what I'm gonna do here is there's a previous button. It'll just use the previous settings. It's all hit it. All right. It's a little bit too bright. So we're gonna pull back. We'll get color saturation in there to get I'm just thinking of this part. I don't care about back here. This is all I'm thinking of. Okay, so now let's like both of them jump over to photo shop. It'll layer each one on top of itself, and our brightest one is gonna be the foreground. My computer's a little sleepy now. It's had a long day. There we go. All right, So we got both on top of each other. I kind of just quick rename sky, which is our sky one. And we'll just call this foreground. He's got the foreground that we want. So from this top layer, all I want is the sky and maybe even the buildings from the bottom layer. All I want is this part. So what we'll do click the layer mask icon here? Um, we could brush. We could take my brush tool. And I could just very simply brush all that out and get better. Streaky lights. Another thing that we could do here is we could take our ingredient tool. Um, talked about this before to the mask. Doesn't care how it gets black or white on it. It just carries that against black or white. So I took the Grady in tool. I could click and drag. What happens feeds two into each other. So that would be a good option for that one, too. Okay. Okay. Can you use the selection tool to protect the buildings and then affect the sky like you were doing before to ah, race the, uh, the graduated filter before? Could I use the selection tool to protect the buildings? I have to come in a photo shop for it. I couldn't I don't have selections inside of light room, so that could have been an option. You to come in here with layers and what not make selections could definitely do it, but they're so we just had a little graduated filter, and it kind of gives you the same same effect as that, but I think my alignments just a hair off. But now we're able to get some better lights. Lights that had a little bit longer oven exposure on them. I'll show you 11 last little thing here. So this is a good exist. Go ahead. Delete the layer mask for a second. You really want to get crazy like we did with the clouds. We could go to filter, blur gallery, go down here. The path blur. So remember, what's path blur. All right. I can move it over here, and then I can start to I can drop points on it. Another point over here. You know, we're getting kind of crazy with it, and then do that and drop another point over there. But I can go in there and start to blur some of these lights. Now I know it almost looks like a painting. So what we would have done, I can even do it is now what I know what'll make it faster. Just reduce the size of the image a little bit. So now that I duplicated the layer, now I can add that blur along the path like so stop it. Go away. Here we go. I can add that blur along the path and then take it down a little bit there. Um, click. OK, it's obviously going to be over the whole layer. But then what I would do is just mask it in. So create the layer mask. Little trick for you is if the layer mascots white. And so what would I have to do her? I have to paint the entire photo black. And just to leave that part, if the layer mask is white, you compress command I or control I for invert and we'll make it black. And then I could take my brush tool. The wear A mask is black color. We pay not with white. So then I could take my brush tool, the lower the opacity a little bit, and I could start to paint streaking us into their. So spend a little time with it if you just absolutely could not get it right in the field, which I would definitely try for this stuff to try to do. If you spend a little time with it, you can kind of enhance that a little bit. Um, cool. So any, uh, you guys and questions in here? Yeah. Can you think of a time when you would do bracketing with long exposure? Yeah, Um, so a couple times when I do bracketing if I thought wow, if I thought the lighting was going to get really difficult to work with So let's say I was doing let's say I was doing long exposure for the water. In fact, let's just I can show you. So here is a photo shoot that I did that on. Okay, you can see there's dark, bright, brighter. It's gonna keep resetting. Okay, So for the most part, what I was really concentrating on we saw this photo earlier. What I was really concentrating on was the water. All right, I'm not really thinking about the sky. So if that happens, what I usually do is I would bracket a series of photos before I put the filter on, and then I'd start working with my filter, keep the camera on the tripod bracket a Siri's so that you have everything and then put the filter on and then start toe work with whatever part of the photo that you're trying to work with. In this case, it's the water which normally is gonna be the water start to work with the photo that way. So that's where bracketing could help you could you could put your you could put your put your filter on your app tells you that it should be 30 seconds. You could try one at 15 seconds and you could try one of 45 seconds. And that way you cover yourself if you ever do need the highlights or shadows from whenever the one of those other photos Another reason of what I did You see if I can back up inside this this photo shoot come pretty sure and did it here. Yeah. So another reason that I bracketed is so I bracket in a Siri's of these photos. And then I took the long exposure. So what I do that I did that? Because at least one of those bracketed shots is going to give me the boat still, and then a long exposure photo. Obviously the boats moving, but we use the same techniques that we've used 10 times today in 20 times. Yesterday. Open up both photos on layers and just use your mask to paint the sharp boat into the blurry boat. So That's another reason. So not necessarily using it using the bracket. Teoh get to get the range. But I am using it just to make sure I'm covered. So a lot of times I will shoot a bracket and set of everything before I jump into a long exposure. Just so uncovered. We good here? Cool. Yeah. What do you got you ready for? So we're, you know, actually, a lot of questions about fireworks. About who? Fireworks. Like, uh, yeah, shooting fireworks. And how you do that? A lot shorter than you think. They're not a terribly long exposure. Um, uh, I haven't done a long time and I used to know the foot. There's almost a formula for it. Like you. You want a certain It's only it's only a few seconds. It's not. It's not very long at all. It's only like two or three seconds. I think the question was, fireworks are usually clicked with shutter in bulb setting. What's the best F stop for fireworks? FH or F 22 or something else? I think it's so it's at night that I worked FAA is probably fine. Yeah, Yeah. Okay. Because you have depth of field up there. You don't have to worry about your shooting fireworks. You have to worry about any of that. So F 22 is probably going to give you a really, really long shutter speed or make you use along shutter speed. Is there anything you can do creatively, besides run for cover with weather, rain or snow? Is there anything that could be done with landscape photography? Including that, um, whether rains? No. So you're longer exposures for lightning? I could work rain. Probably capture some. It's no, I bet you, you know, a couple of a second or two will capture some movement and snow, but you definitely get some. You definitely get some. You don't want to go 30 seconds on lightning, but if you do a few seconds, you'll get you'll get lightning. So and that's it's a good That's a good point during this photo shoot here. Like like this one. For example. There were boats coming through in the distance. You won't see him. This was like 30 seconds. Um, 2090 so you won't see those boats in the distance? Lightning don't think. Don't think 30 seconds for lightning. Think you know 234 seconds for lightning. If you wait 30 seconds, what's gonna happen is is you're not going to see the lightning in the final photo. Um, you might let me, actually might see a little bit of it. Just depends how close it is to you. But yeah, like there is There is a boat moving across the frame in this one, and you won't see it sound awesome. Richard has another question. How do you deal with the scene where the optimal cloud movement and water movement required different shutter speeds? Take two different photos? Yeah, Two different photos merging together. Do you ever use the hissed A gram when taking photos? Uh, so we talked about this yesterday. Um, I don't typically use the hissed a gram. Um, especially because I'm bracketing just about everything. We talked quite a bit about this in our class yesterday. I bracket everything. I bracket everything not to merge them together as an HDR photo. But I bracket everything so that I concentrate on composition and being creative. And I put my camera down. I let it bracket the entire scene. I can pick it up and move on. I don't have to look at the history am I have to look it rgb values and have to look at any of that because I know one of those photos got it, and I could go concentrate on the actual photography. Awesome. One final question. Please have Matt discuss how to focus in low light. How to focus on a little late. We talked about that a little bit this morning, where eso if your camera just won't focus If your auto focus just won't go because it's too dark out, the only thing you could really do is go into, uh, what's it called? Live you in the back your camera and zoom in on something that you could possibly focus on. If it's so dark you goingto live you and you still can't see anything, then the only other thing you can do is bring a flashlight, shine it onto something that's in the foreground, leave it on, use that to focus on and then and then then switch your camera to manual Focus because you don't want to press the shutter again after that. So a lot of night photography. A lot of times when I'm out shooting stars. That's what I have to do. But have something in the foreground off to shine a flashlight on it so I can focus on that and get a focus point. And that way, But you do have to switch to manual focus. When you're dunks, your camera will keep trying. Totally. So, um, we got a few people. We have all levels of people watching from all over the world. Really, which is phenomenal for someone who just got a DSLR and they're just starting out. What would you say to focus on? It can be pretty overwhelming with all the settings, just even within a camera. Even if you don't have any filters or anything like that, what would you What would be your advice for somebody just starting out? So long exposure, just in general long exposure. So the way that I see the way that I put the gear guide together, I put it in. I should have said this before, before earlier, I put the gear guide together in order off by by in this order. All right. But what I would say is, start with just a basic screw on filter. You can buy one for, like, 20 or 25 bucks. You can buy the three kit set, I think for like, 75 or 100 books. I'd probably by the three filter kit just cause you're gonna win the buying. Um, anyway, so you might as well just save the money now. So if that's your first thing by that kid, Okay, then from there, Once you If you've gone to the point where you've exhausted what you could do with that kit, then I would go. And I've got the opposite end of the spectrum and get the really dark one, because now you'll have both ends of the spectrum cover. You know, you got your simple stuff. If you just want to screw, filter on and do a quick long exposure, you got your lead. Your your big stopper, your stop. You want to do the crazy stuff, and then from there you can start to fill in any of the gaps in between. If if you go so the little stop or something. So by that, by the kit first, or at least one filter and I would go straight if you're just gonna buy one, you only got 25 bucks I would buy. Probably a three stop a three stop filter, so start small. Okay, Go from there. It's gonna be tough to go out and buy the $400 set right off the bat. Right. Awesome. Well, any final thoughts for us, Matt? As we're wrapping up a day talking about long exposure photography, Um, have fun with it. You know, I mentioned this in the beginning of the day, but this is it's it's really I hope. I hope it does the same for you. It's really opened up a whole new, a whole new kind of enjoyment and photography for me. Um, you know, go out there. And if the lights not happen in if if certain things aren't happening a lot of times, some long exposure opportunities were there. I mean, I showed the photo the photo twice off what I shot yesterday morning. I actually really like that shot. And I went out there thinking, Now we're just going through the motions just so I can demonstrate long exposures, but I really like that zoomed in shot of the final rankings like that. That's a nice shot. So that goes to show you an horrible, horrible light and worst conditions. I mean, we made a nice photo out of that on. I think that's that's makes it pretty fun.

Class Description

Long exposure photography helps you to create truly dramatic images. In Mastering Long Exposure Photography with Matt Kloskowski you’ll learn how to capture images in which water appears to move and clouds streak across the sky.

Matt is a landscape photographer and the best-selling author of over 20 books on photography, Lightroom, and Photoshop. In this class, you’ll watch Matt at work in the field as he demonstrates his favorite techniques. 

You’ll learn about:

  • Camera settings for capturing extended exposures 
  • Helpful photography equipment and apps 
  • Post-processing long exposure images 

Matt will discuss which filters work for long exposure photographs and he’ll show you how to create images that seem to move and convey the passage of time.

If you've been wanting to create dramatic images, Mastering Long Exposure Photography with Matt Kloskowski is the class for you. It'll open you up to a whole new style of captivating fine art photography.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase


Long Exposure Gear Guide.pdf

CreativeLive Sky

Long Exposure Cheat Sheet.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



I always enjoy the opportunity to learn something new from one of my favorite teachers, and Matt rarely disappoints. The material that he covers in this class on long exposures will give the viewers enough tools and techniques to get them on their way to creating quality captures. He gives many tips how to overcome some of the most commonly found issues and pitfalls that long exposures can include. If there was any disappointment in what I received, it would be the duplication of the "bonus" material (except for the 'cheat sheet') from the class I had purchased the day before. I might add that "Photoshop and Lightroom for Landscape Photographers" is a great companion to this class and is also worthy of purchase. The second disappointment, at least for me, was Matt's not including long exposures that involve capturing the night sky... stars, Milky Way, Moon, etc. THAT would be a perfect opportunity for CreativeLive to jump in and put a class together. I would be willing to bet that it would be HUGELY popular. Just a thought! Again, a big 'thank you' to Matt for another solid presentation. I'll be tuning in to his next presentation.

D Kelly

Excellent class! Great for beginners who want to learn LE photography. I started experimenting with LE last Fall and this course totally reinforced everything I learned. I loved the "hands on" demonstrations in the field and how each frame he shot was explained. His excellent explanations of how to use the filters was very good. An easy going instructor who made what is often a confusing subject very easy to grasp.

Karen Witter

I have loved all of the classes I've taken from Matt, and this class was no exception. Matt explains everything so clearly and then beautifully illustrates what he means. I learned a ton from this class. I love how practical he is, as well as his engaging manner of teaching. I highly recommend this class if you're interested in taking pictures where you want to convey motion which, as he explains, is how our eyes really see.