Light Trail, Milky Way, Light House
1 year, 8 months ago 4

Light Trail, Milky Way, Light House

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How I Created The Image – Before/After Post-Processing

milky before 1 milky before 2 milky before 3

The Cool Bits -Technical Info

Processing Time: 40 minutes
Exposure Blending method: Manual masking
No. of Exposures: 3
Aperture: f/2.8
ISO: 5000
Focal Length: 14mm
Lens: Nikon 14-24 f/2.8
Camera: Nikon D800
Plugins: Topaz DeNoise
Luminosity Masks: used to create softer shadows

Workflow Explanation – Milky Way Light Trails

This image was created using Raya Pro – The Photoshop Plugin.

Thank you to my wife, Rachel for running along this path at with her iPhone. That’s how I captured the light trail. It took her 3 goes before I was able to capture it cleanly. Good job she’s a competitive runner!

This was a straight forward image to shoot and process. I shot one longer exposure at 1 minute 30 seconds for the foreground. A separate exposure for the stars at 25 seconds, and a third exposure for the light trail, at 20 seconds.

I blended the foreground exposure and the star exposure by manually masking. For the light trail I just placed that layers on the top of the layer panel, changed its Blend mode to Lighten, and voila! the light trails blended nicely into the scene.

Before all of that I’d added my usual colder cast to the scene, that I like to give my astro shots. This was done with the temperature slider in ACR.

After that, the processing was easy. Just a few contrast adjustments, the Orton effect from Raya Pro, and some selectively applied noise removal with Topaz DeNoise.

And I finished by creating a custom vignette that you can learn to do here: Quick Photoshop Secrets 9: Awesome Vignette For a Moodier Scene.

Finally, the image was sharpened and resized using my free sharpening tools, which you can download here: Quick Photoshop Secrets 16: Perfect Sharpening & Resize for the Web

As always, I hope you found this useful.


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  • Jaro Fagan

    Great tutorial Jimmy, thank you ..what lens did you use for this? I just noticed your left side of the sky “stars” is not as pin sharp as the right one.. I noticed this fault before with samyang lens in discussion.. Is that it or is it something else?

    • Justin

      Looks like he used the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8, and shot at 14mm, wide open. It’s listed under “The Cool Bits – Technical Info” pane on the right side at the beginning of the write up.

      • Jaro Fagan

        OK thanks Justin, I did not see it there.. :)

  • Joepet Macariola

    Great stuff though. Such an amazing tutorial. Thank for this Jimmy.