digital photography tips with Digital Photo Mentor Darlene Hildebrandt

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Video: How to combine multiple light painted images in Photoshop

In this 30 minute video, I'll show you how to take multiple images shot using light painting, and combine them with Photoshop for the final image. My workflow uses both Lightroom and Photoshop and I organize and process my images with Lightroom but then use masking layers and combine the photos in Photoshop.

Note: Make sure all images to be combined are all shot from the same camera angle

You'll learn:

  • How to combine multiple images in Photoshop
  • How to use layer masks to remove unwanted elements
  • Ordering the layers from darkest to lightest
  • Using a cell phone to light specific portions of the image
  • How to use the Photoshop layer blend mode to indicate the lightest part of each layer
  • How to change the softness of your brush to avoid hard edges in your mask.
  • How to make use of different brush sizes for different areas of the layer.
  • How to use the cloning tool to remove power lines
Note: In the video, I talk about turning the headlights on. What I mean by that is to light them with the cellphone light so they “look” like they've been turned on. My camera is catching the reflection in the back of the light from the phone. We did not turn the car's headlights on.

In a previous article, I showed you the steps I used to capture the individual photos and how we used a simple cellular telephone to add light to parts of the image. This video completes the process, and shows how to combine the images and mask out unwanted areas.

More layers means a bigger file size.

Photoshop has to work with and process all the images used, so your overall working file size will be much larger. This larger file will also take longer to process and depending on your computer, and the number of images, could really bog your system down.

When I'm using Photoshop for work like this, I make sure it's the only application I have running so my computer has all it's resources working on this single thing.

Once the layers are combined in Photoshop, I use Lightroom to finalize some things. In Lightroom I'll work with clarity to show you how to adjust portions of the photo and how to apply a vignette.

Wacom Tablet

I use the Wacom tablet with 2048 levels of touch sensitivity when working with Lightroom and Photoshop. It gives me brush sensitivity along with excellent control over my editing. While a mouse will work, the Wacom tablet allows for much finer control and I can get my work done faster.

Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts used:

  • ALT-click to apply a black layer mask
  • CTRL-Z to undo
  • D – choose default color palette
  • X – reverses the color palette
  • ] – increase brush size
  • [ – decrease brush size
  • 1-9 – change opacity. Number 3 would be 30%
  • Shift-click – Shift clicking a mask will activate / deactivate the layer mask so you can see the differences
  • CMD-ALT-SHIFT-E – stamps all layers into one combined layer so you can do cloning
  • CMD-S – Save

Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts

  • D – switch to develop module
  • Alt- Click black slider – checks black and white clipping
  • O – shows what part of the photo have been masked
  • ALT – switch to eraser tool
  • M – activate the graduated filter

See all my Photoshop tutorials


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