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Night Photography Post Processing Techniques

Lesson 10 of 11

Full Moon: Multiple Exposures In Lightroom And Photoshop

Tim Cooper

Night Photography Post Processing Techniques

Tim Cooper

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Lesson Info

10. Full Moon: Multiple Exposures In Lightroom And Photoshop

Lesson Info

Full Moon: Multiple Exposures In Lightroom And Photoshop

Alright, so the dilemma here, folks, like I was talking about earlier when shooting the full moon, is that, in a typical situation, when the moon is already up in the sky and the sun has set, you get one of two things. You either get some foreground detail and the moon is completely blown out, with no man in the moon, no cheese, no craters, nothing, it's just a pure blank white. Or, if you decide that you wanna get detail on the moon, which is what you have here, then the whole frame is completely black. It's just the fact that there's no sunlight hitting the ground, foreground, and there is sunlight illuminating the moon. So that's why I say it's always best to shoot the full moon two or three days before the moon comes up, and that way the moon will come up just as the sun is setting. Sunlight hits the land, illuminates the land, sun hits the moon, illuminates the moon. Both of these things are within the same exposure range. Easy peasy, you're done. That's not all the time. We don't...

always want that exact scenario. It's a very specific look. In this case, I was down with my partner, Gabriel Biederman, down in Florida on a National Parks at Night workshop, and this was what I wanted. I wanted this look to the water, which ended up being a 30-second exposure. But the moon was already up in the sky. Basically what I'm getting here, the reason I can actually even see the water is number one, the moon is illuminating it, but also we're getting city light from Miami, coming in and illuminating some of these areas. But at 30 seconds the moon is completely blown out. So if I look at my next exposure down, this was four seconds. And I get some sky detail which I like. But the moon is still blown out. And then when I get down to... 1/125 of a second is when I first start seeing detail in the moon. So you can see these are many, many, many stops apart in order to capture both of these. So what we can do is try to blend them together. Making it look realistic is kind of tough. We've all seen those photographs of moons overlaid on images that just look completely fake. Any time you're doing a composite like that you've gotta think about the angle of the light, the color of the light and the brightness, and to some degree the contrast as well. And all of that has to match. So in this case we'll attempt to do that. I'm going to take this image, this image, and let's just look at this moon, see if there's any detail in that one. Ah, I like the other one better. Alright, so, we're gonna take the 1/125, the four seconds and the 30 seconds and blend those together. Alright. So we'll begin as we always do by going to Photo, Edit In, Open As Layers in Photoshop. Okay. So, in this case, what we have is the darkest moon on top. So we're just gonna save that for later. I'm just going to undo that eyeball there. And we'll be looking at these two photographs. And it looks like they're pretty well aligned. I'm just kinda going back and forth looking to make sure that this stilt house in Biscayne Bay doesn't move. And it doesn't. And... What I need to do is figure out which part of each image I want. Now frankly, I like the water in this one. In 30 seconds the water picked up this really nice smooth kind of texture that I've joined. But I don't like the fact that this is super blown out here. So, in this case, I want the top image, I want to use this and blend it together with that. So I'm going to begin by... Let's see, maybe... Yeah, let's try... Let's just try kinda painting that in. I'm gonna click on this layer, and then create a mask. Click on my brush tool. And now wherever I paint with... Now wherever I paint with black is gonna show through to this bottom layer. Alright. So what I could do is click on here and paint with black. And I'd be seeing the water underneath. But that's a little bit convoluted as you can see because then I'd have to go over and paint this one, and that's a pain. So what I'll do instead... And I'm just hitting Control-Alt-Z to go back in time here, is put this layer on top. And move that mask up to there. Now when I paint with black on this layer, I will get that water coming in underneath. Now of course at first blush that doesn't look good because it's too darn dark. But we can fix that. Okay. But that's the idea. You can now see that that black is coming through, or the black is punching a hole in that layer and showing down into this layer. Alright, now, to make this look realistic, what we're gonna need to do is... Blend this together with a soft edge brush a little bit. So I'm gonna make my brush a little softer and get those edges to blend in together, like that. There we go, that's looking a little more realistic. And I'm actually gonna go in here, click on that layer. Go up to Properties and feather that mask. And that will start to blend that stuff together even more. Now, I'm gonna use this mask by command clicking on it and reloading that selection. And I'm gonna try to brighten... This bottom layer by using an adjustment layer. Okay. So you can see what I've done here now. This adjustment will only be adjusting this layer. And if I tend to brighten that up a little bit it's going to get, oops. If I tend to brighten that up a little bit we will still have some detail in there but it won't be completely blown out. And that's gonna make it a little bit more realistic. Let's see. Bend this down so I can see my whole curve here. There we go. Now the only thing is I have to make sure that this blends together. So I'm gonna pull that back down. As you can see as I'm pulling that down it's starting to, the faded area, the blended area here is starting to become closer together. Alright. That's not too terrible bad. I think I might wanna se a little bit more feather on these masks. And so that might help that a little bit. And ultimately maybe even go a little bit brighter on this yellow right in here. I just not loving it. So I'm gonna create another mask and brighten that up. But for now I'll leave that go. But know that I would make that area just a touch brighter, and maybe adjusting the curve that way is gonna help. So, the next thing I need to do is I need to take this sky... Here, and have that come through. So what I'll do is... Grab my quick-select tool. And just make a quick selection of that sky. And on this mask here I would fill that with black. So black is my foreground color, so I'll press Alt-Delete. And there we go. So I actually made a mistake earlier, and I was wondering why this wasn't working, but my mask is opposite of what I need. You all remember when I was trying to lighten up this bottom, and nothing was happening? That's because the bottom was black. This mask should be upside down. And now, when I brighten that area up it's gonna look a little bit more like what I wanted it to. A little bit brighter. But still retain some detail. Alright now, what I just did here was I filled this layer up here with black. And that allowed this layer to come through. The only problem is that looks a little bit bright to me. Or a little bit dark on this edge. And the reason it is so is because I blurred this mask beforehand. And this is part of the problem when you use the properties to feather a mask. So, you can see this part of the mask here I feathered earlier. And I wanted to make a hard edge along that water line there. And when I just filled it with black, it went onto a mask that had already been softened. So using this feather up in the Properties box is really convenient, but you may also at times wanna use the feather, or blur (mumbles) blur, so that you don't end up with this effect here. So let me show you what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna click on this mask itself, and go back up to the Properties here and bring the feather back down to zero. Now notice how that just fixed this line up in here, now this looks much more realistic. But now this area down here is not feathered any longer. So let me go up here and I'll show you. Oh it is still feathered. I must have painted that in with the brush. That makes sense. Alright, so grab my brush and feather that even a little bit more. Okay. And maybe just kinda work back and forth with my black and my white brushes using a feathered edge to kinda make that look more realistic. And I'm just looking for that kinda happy medium in there. And I might go back to my curve here. And lift up the shadow values so that the darkest values within the contrasting area here are not so overbearing. Something more like that. Now as you guys can see I'm just kinda going back and forth with feathering these edges. And trying to figure out just the right amount to blend these two together. Because I'm asking a lot of Photoshop, and of the believer to believe that you're getting detail in this area when the water looks like that. So, I may even do something a little bit different at the end here to try to blend that together better. But let's not worry about that. Let's get back to the moon. So, what I'm gonna do is if I include my moon, I am only able to see the black around it. So what I actually have to do is go in here and select the moon... Itself. So onc again, I think quick select, we've been getting lucky with that today. Not my favorite tool, but it certainly is easy. I'm gonna go in and get that moon selected. It does a pretty good job. Remember, you guys, you always wanna be on the layer of the thing that you're selecting. Alright, that's looking pretty good. And... In this case I think what I'm gonna do... Is copy that to a brand new layer. So, when this is selected if I hit Command J, what it does is it selects and drops it onto a new layer. And now there is that moon sitting over that bright part in the sky.

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

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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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.