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Night Photography Post Processing Techniques

Lesson 2 of 11

Milky Way Image: Combining Exposures

Tim Cooper

Night Photography Post Processing Techniques

Tim Cooper

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Lesson Info

2. Milky Way Image: Combining Exposures

Lesson Info

Milky Way Image: Combining Exposures

Let's start off with the Milky Way. A lot of times what we're gonna wanna do is instead of doing star trails like this, which is really fun and I like to do them often, sometimes we just wanna capture just the stars themselves. In this case, that's what I have done. I've just captured just the stars and this is the Milky Way with some clouds coming over Going-to-the-Sun Mountain in Glacier National Park. You can see, this is 25-second exposure at a very high ISO of and that's the way we're gonna capture those stars, those what we call star points. You can see that I'm at a very wide-open aperture, so a wide aperture of 2.8, 25 seconds, ISO 6400. That enables us to stop them dead in the sky without trailing and it also allows them to have a little bit of light. In this case, what I wanted to do was I wanted to capture the stars, but I also, as I was capturing shot after shot, there was some vehicles coming up through the scene. Here was the original shot and that doesn't show any light...

at the bottom or any kind of detail or depth in the mountain itself, but when the cars came by, things changed a little bit. The cars running up the road kind of outlined these trees. Same thing here, a car a little further down the road outlined these trees, and so I want the mountains to look like this, but I want the sky to look like that. Let's take a look at how we developed these three images. I'm gonna press D to ho into my Develop module and you're gonna see for this one, I have actually changed my exposure and brightened it up a little bit. Lemme double-click on the word exposure, that brings it back to where it was, and when it hit Command + Z, that's how I set it. A little bit brighter. Now, if you shoot your camera in daylight white balance, even though you're out in the middle of nowhere, like I was here in Glacier, the sky is gonna be less than, shall we say stellar? It kinda looks grayish. Now, some people really like that look and there's nothing wrong with it. For me, I like my sky to be a little bit more blue. I brought my, I brought my temperature down to about 3700, which is pretty common for me. 3800, right around in that area, is what I tend to shoot my skies at. That gives it a little bit more of a blue color, rather than a gray color. Again, that's subjective though. All right, now in the next image, this is as-shot. This was on my daylight setting. You can see instead of 3200, it's at 5200. The reason that I'm leaving that this way is because the warmth of the cars coming up, I wanna keep that warmth. I want the bottom part of this frame to be warm, the top part to be cool so we're getting that color contrast out of the image. In the next image, same thing. I left that white balance here at 5250, so that was my daylight setting. My goal is to open up all of these photos into Photoshop and blend them together. You can see why I made this one obviously the cool one because these others had clouds that were coming in and obscuring different parts of the Milky Way. Okay, now, I'm gonna leave this blue as it is for now. Ultimately, however, I may want to desaturate that. While I like the blue, I don't like it to be too terribly blue. Sometimes that over-saturation tends to look a little fake and we're gonna try to avoid that. All right, so the first step is to put all of your images together into one file inside of Photoshop. What we're gonna do is we're gonna grab these three images and we're gonna go up to Photo, Edit In, and Open as Layers in Photoshop. What that will do is it'll make a copy of each one of these raw files, it'll create a TIFF, and each one of those photographs will then be placed into one file within Photoshop, and then we're gonna start to layer and blend them together.

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.