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Night Photography Post Processing Techniques

Lesson 7 of 11

Car Trails: Fixing Uneven Sky

Tim Cooper

Night Photography Post Processing Techniques

Tim Cooper

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Lesson Info

7. Car Trails: Fixing Uneven Sky

Lesson Info

Car Trails: Fixing Uneven Sky

The sky is a little bit uneven and we've got some, something going on up in here and let me tell you, when you're blending multiple layers together and you have issues, you know little bits that you need to take of sometimes it's much easier just to put all of the layers together. Now I could find out particularly which layer this is on, is it on the brightest layer? Oh it's being part of both. So it's showing on a couple of different layers here. That one. Not on that one. So it's actually on the bottom layer. Now I could just go right to the bottom layer but what I'm gonna do instead is show you all a little trick. Once again I'm gonna select all these layers, I'm gonna go click on this one, shift click on this one, that selects all the layers and then I'm gonna hit the keyboard command. Get ready for this, command alt shift and E. And that would be control, alt, shift and E if you're on a PC. And what that just did was it took these three layers, merged them together and copied them...

and put them on a layer of itself. So notice I could take off the eyeballs of these three layers now and it doesn't matter because this in itself is now a complete image. A blend of these three and the reason that we're gonna do this in this case is 'cause it's gonna make retouching much easier. I don't have to continue to go back in between each one of these layers and say, "Ooh where's that problem? "Where's this problem?" And click and click. This is just one complete layer and so now I'm gonna click on here and I'll just grab my, oh very simple and easy to use spot healing brush and click over that and that's disappeared and I could fix out anything else I needed to in the sky. Maybe that green light, that's a little bit sore on the corner there. And, just a touch of retouching. Looking good, okay but now I do not like this heavy duty glow over here on this portion of the image. While it's natural it just looks a little distracting to me. So, what you can do is you can use a bit of this sky. Now fixing uneven skies I'm not going to try to fool you, it's not super easy to do in Photoshop. I mean it certainly can be done but it, it takes a little bit of work but I'll try to show you an easy way to do this. At least for this way. For this particular area. What we'll do is I'm going to make a new layer and I'm gonna fill that layer with this color here. So to grab this color what I'll do is I'll grab my paintbrush. Whenever you have your paintbrush in your hand, if you simply click alt, you get the eyedropper key. And now when I click, it covers or it creates that color in my foreground color picker right there. Now once it's in my foreground color picker I can press alt delete and it fills that color in the image. Now of course that's, it doesn't do us much good. Alright, our whole entire image is gone. But, what we'll do is we'll create a mask here and instead of just clicking the mask which gives me a white mask, if I hold down the alt key while I click the mask I get a black mask. Just think of alt or option as the alternative function. I've heard it called the, the make better key by some of the folks I learned Photoshop from. Now, what we're gonna need to do though is we're need to allow this color to come in across this area. And there's lots of different ways to do that as well. Somehow though, we're gonna need to get that to be white. So I could take my paintbrush and click on my mask 'cause if I was clicked here and I painted with white it would just show up on this image itself and you could see that if the mask was gone it would look like that. So I don't wanna paint on the actual image. I wanna paint on the mask. So click on the mask and I could take my paintbrush in here and use a nice soft edge and I could simply paint white onto that mask and you could see what's happening here. That's where I painted. Alright, so that's gray so that reminds me to look up at my opacity and see that it was at 50% rather than the 100% I wanted it to be. Alright now as I painted through here, painting that color on top of an already, something of already the same color is gonna have very little effect. Alright so we take that on and off, you can barely see any effect in here but over on this area we're getting much more of that blue effect. Alright, so that's one way that you can do it is just simply painting on that mask and I'm gonna fill that mask in again with black and show you another thing that I'm gonna try. This time what I'm gonna do is use my rectangular marquee tool and, you know what? I take it back, I'm gonna hit command D and undo that or deselect that. This time what I'm gonna do is I'm going to grab the gradient tool. And the gradient tool will help me paint on this mask and give us a nice soft gradient through here. So I want it to run from black to white. So you can see this is white to black and that's actually what I want 'cause if I click up here and drag down you can see what's happening here on the mask. I'm drawing out the gradient. Now the gradient tool works pretty cool because you can just keep clicking and trying the gradient multiple times until you get it to where you want. So you don't to completely do edit undo or redo every time. Okay, so let's start here again with a completely black mask and I'm gonna zoom in and once again I've changed this to the choice of white to black. And my foreground color is white to black and I'm gonna click up here and then click and move down to about there and see how that looks. Maybe it can go a little bit longer. So, click up here and drag down. Yeah that's a smoother gradient. Now let's look at quickly, the before and after. And you can see how it just sort of evened out that sky. The only problem is that I think my Capitol building might be getting a little messed up. So, I'm gonna go back and command click on this mask. Now what that does is it reloads the selection but in this case it's just the opposite selection that I want. So I'm gonna go up to Select, Inverse and now I have that Capitol building selected again. Now this is very handy because when I paint now, if I click on this layer and paint, it's only gonna paint within the selection and I wanna ensure that that mask is gonna be black in that area. So, whoops, painted the wrong color. And it is indeed black and we can look at our mask and I did paint that in. So I made sure that that part of the mask was really nice and dark so it's not getting influenced by that sky. Now if you wanted to get this a little bit more, you know if you wanted to get more of that blue sky in here and completely get rid of that glow you most certainly could, you just click on that mask and you could use your very soft brush, painting with black, or I'm sorry, painting with white and you could start to pull that in to get rid of that glow. You would now just need to go back and get of it off of the city. So lots of different ways to go about that. I just wanted to show you guys how easy it can be to turn a night sky into a more even type of sky by using color filling.

Class Description

Taking photos at night presents some obvious problems. Shadows, underexposure, blurring and lack of light can all conspire to ruin a perfectly lovely scene. But good Adobe® Photoshop® and Adobe® Lightroom® post-processing techniques can take a deeply flawed night image and give it new life. In this class, night photography expert Tim Cooper will show you how to deal with common night photography issues through image deconstruction, Blend Modes, layers and masks, color fill layers and other retouching tools.


Adobe Lightroom Classic CC, Adobe Photoshop CC 2018


John Fletcher

I'd recommend this course to someone who is completely new to night/star photography and photoshop. There are some good, easy processing tips in here to pull off some nice effects. I was really hoping this was going to go into some more detail and talk about processing tips for dealing with high ISO grain and whatnot in images that is pretty much a given when doing night photography. Unfortunately, there was nothing in here about dealing with this. It's more just compositing techniques.

a Creativelive Student

Perfect class for mainly LR users needing to use PS to do some more editing. Tim explains his steps very well. There is no fluff. Just all good tips.

Jean Hilmes

Truly great tips on taking nigh photography.