CAPTURETHEMOMENT Just another WordPress site Fri, 11 Dec 2020 21:45:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How to Take Pictures of Stars: A Beginner’s Guide to Astrophotography Fri, 11 Dec 2020 21:31:59 +0000 Read more]]> The How to Take Pictures of Stars Guide is the product of collaboration between Kevin Choi from and Viktor Elizarov from

At some point in the photography journey, every photographer entertains the possibility of getting into astrophotography. But, for many beginners, it is a scary proposition because of two major misconceptions.

How to Take Pictures of Stars

Misconception One

The equipment for astrophotography is prohibitively expensive and, as a result, is out of reach for most beginners and hobbyists.

This was true even five to seven years ago when a combination of cameras capable of producing quality images at high ISO paired with a fast and wide angle lens would cost you anywhere from $4,000 to $5,000.

But, in recents years, things have drastically changed. Rapid advances in sensor technology allow us to use entry level cameras from nearly any manufacturer to photograph the stars. Also, third party lens manufacturers, mostly those from Asia, finally achieved the perfect balance between the quality of lenses and price.

We will address the equipment you need to photograph the stars in great detail in the Equipment section but, it is worth mentioning now that you can have all the equipment necessary for astrophotography for under $1,000.

Misconception Two

The second misconception is that the technique of photographing the stars is too complex for most beginners. This is completely false. The astrophotography process is actually very simple and straightforward. But, what makes the process more time consuming than traditional landscape photography is preparation and scouting.

How to Take Pictures of Stars - Astro Photography Guide

What is Astrophotography in Simple Terms?

When you look at the sky at night with a naked eye, you see only the brightest stars and, even then, the brightest are still very dim.

Astrophotography allows us to amplify the brightness of the stars by keeping the camera’s shutter open for a longer period of time, which lets the camera sensor capture much more light than what’s possible with our eyes.

As a result, astrophotography enables us to photograph stars that are not visible to the naked eye.


Even though location is the most important part of the astrophotography equation, there is obviously no way to photograph stars without the proper equipment.

There are five pieces of equipment you need, but only three are essential.

1. Camera

You need a camera with manual controls that can produce decent, quality photos at ISO 1600-3200. The good news is that most modern cameras already fall under this category.

2. Lens

The Milky Way is spread widely across the sky and is a very dim subject. Because of this, you need a wide and fast lens.

If you want to shoot the whole Milky Way in one shoot, you will need a lens wider than 24mm on a full frame camera or 18mm on APS-C.

For the aperture, f4 is good, f2.8 is great, any lens with aperture faster than f2.8 is excellent.

3. Tripod

This is probably the most important part of the entire astrophotography setup. When using a shutter speed around 20-30 sec, even the slightest movement of the camera will ruin your photos. This means that it is not enough to use just any tripod, it is essential that it is rock solid.

4. Headlamp

This is an optional piece of equipment that can be replaced with any standard flashlight.

5. Remote Shutter Release

The remote shutter release is another optional piece of equipment. It can be replaced by the 2 sec delay functionality on most cameras.

Kevin’s Equipment

Both the Nikon D810 and Canon 100D can produce great quality images even under ISO3200 but, of course, the Nikon D810 is better.

Viktor’s Equipment

I have a minimalistic astrophotography setup.​

I use a Sony a6000 camera and a Rokinon 12mm f2.0 prime lens. I use a Feisol tripod which, by design, does not have a center column and is incredibly steady even in windy conditions.

Finding the Milky Way and the Dark Sky

When you start learning how to photograph the stars, the Milky Way is usually the first and most popular object to shoot.

However, it can be a challenge to find the Milky Way in the dark sky. Even though we all live in the Milky Way galaxy, most people never see it.

Before going into the technical aspects of shooting the Milky Way, it is important that you first know how to find it.

How to take pictures of stars - The Milky Way

Seasons of the Milky Way

Although the Milky Way is always across Planet Earth, you see different parts of it depending on the different seasons and your location.

The best months to shoot the Milky Way is always from March to September. During this time, you are able to photograph the Milky Way’s bright galactic center.

You can also shoot the Milky Way throughout the rest of the year because, even without the galactic center, you can still create interesting photos.

Dark Sky

Another factor that directly affects astrophotography is the dark sky. The Milky Way is dim on its own so even the tiniest hint of light can make it less visible and more challenging to photograph.

Light pollution and moonlight are two main light sources that affect astrophotography the most.

Light Pollution

Where there are people, there is light. At night, this is called light pollution. Because of light pollution, it is almost impossible to photograph the stars in the middle of the city.

The best way to locate areas with minimal light pollution is to check this free online resource known as the Light Pollution Map. You can find it here:

Moon Phase

Another source of light that affects the dark sky and photographing the stars is the moon. When there is a full moon, it is almost impossible to capture any stars.

The best practice is to shoot during a new moon or to shoot before the moon rises or after it sets. By timing the moon just right, you can ensure that your camera is able to capture the finest details of the Milky Way.

To check the moon phase, you can visit these websites:

Kevin’s Scouting Routine

I normally check the moon phase and weather report first. If the day is good for shooting Milky Way, I will then check StarWalk 2 to see what time I should go out. Then, I will head to some landscape photography group on Facebook and also 500px to find some new location. If I find an interesting landscape location, mostly sunrise and sunset spot, I will then check Google map to see if the place faces the Milky Way or not. 

I like to go to location that no people have shot Milky Way before to give myself a challenge. If the weather turns suddenly cloudy, I still have chance to shoot an amazing sunrise or sunset.

Viktor’s Scouting Routine

My scouting routine starts with the standard set of tools I use for my travel photography planning. I use Google MapsGoogle Earth and to find interesting locations. I complement them with an android version of Star Walk 2 when scouting specifically for astrophotography.


The main challenge of capturing the perfect image of the stars is to get the stars as sharp as possible. Focusing becomes the most essential part of the process. But, we all know how difficult it is to focus in complete darkness.

It sounds simple—you always focus to infinity. In theory, all you have to do is turn the focusing ring all the way to the right. In reality, however, this will focus beyond infinity on most lenses, which is absolutely illogical from a physics perspective. Focusing beyond infinity will produce out of focus and soft stars.

Here are a few different techniques you can use to get the stars in focus and sharp:

  • While scouting during the day, focus and then make marks on your lens as reminders.
  • Know exactly where infinity is on every lens you own. Finding infinity can be more problematic on a zoom lens since, for different focal lengths, infinity will be in different places.
  • Take a few test shots and check the sharpness of the stars after every shot. Keep adjusting the focus until you have the perfect settings.

Viktor’s Focusing Routine

I have a very simplified focusing routine. I have only one lens dedicated to astrophotography – a manual prime lens. I know exactly where infinity is on the lens but, to ensure the perfect shot each time, I made a small mark on the lens as a reminder.

Kevin’s Focusing Routine

I use different focusing technique with my 14-24mm zoom lens. I switch camera to a live view, zoom in to a maximum, find a bright star and focus on it.

How to take pictures of stars - Composition

Shooting Technique

As I mentioned earlier, shooting is one of the easiest parts of the entire astrophotography process. Why? Because you do not have much room or flexibility to experiment with a variety of different settings.

Let me explain.

The sky is dark and the stars are dim. You use the widest aperture possible to capture that limited light.

The earth is constantly moving, which limits your choice of shutter speed values. If you go beyond a 25-30 sec shutter speed, the effect of star trails becomes obvious which, in turn, makes the stars soft. I personally prefer to never go beyond a 25 sec exposure.

This leaves use with the only parameter we can play around with – the ISO.

How to take pictures of stars - Shooting techniques

When I am on location, I have my camera in M (manual) mode. I set the aperture to f2.0 (the widest value on my lens), the shutter speed to 25 sec and the ISO to 640. Then, I take a test shot. I preview the image and analyze the histogram. In most cases, these settings produce an underexposed image so I start increasing the ISO and analyzing the preview after each shot until I have a properly exposed image. From that moment on, I keep shooting with the same settings for the rest of the night.

Related: Low Light Photography Tips

The shutter speed of 25 seconds is not an ideal value. To get sharper stars, I prefer to shoot between 15 and 20 seconds, but I also have to balance this with the ISO value by not going beyond ISO3200. I find that even ISO3200 is a bit too much for the Sony a6000 APS-C sensor.

Perhaps the most important aspect of shooting is that you always shoot in RAW.

Composition in Astrophotography

Even if you have all your equipment ready, you know exactly where to find the Milky Way and you know exactly what settings to use to photograph the night sky, this does not automatically gaurantee that you will be able to produce interesting photographs. Astrophotography is no different than any other type of photography as it is not enough to have all the technical aspects in place. The artistic part always comes into play.

If you simply photograph the sky, your photos will look like sky charts and, while they may be technically sound, they’ll likely be boring. You need to find a way to bring other elements besides the sky into your composition. The elements of a scene can serve as reference points for the viewer to emphasize the scale of the sky.

When you are shooting at night in the pitch black, it is often difficult to visualize your potential compositions; sometimes, it is not even possible to see the objects of the scene.

I recommend addressing the composition aspect of your astrophotography shoot during the day when you are scouting the scene. You can take your time without rushing to assess the composition. When you return to the location at night, composition becomes a simple technicality – a simple process of triggering the shutter.

How to take pictures of stars - Editing

Editing in Astrophotography

The editing part of astrophotography is not any more complicated than conventional landscape editing. The only exception is that you always have to deal with excessive noise.

Here is a simple outline of editing in astrophotography:

Balancing Exposure

Before you start applying any effects, you first need to balance and adjust the exposure. When you take pictures of the sky, they usually come out a bit underexposed. Therefore, you should increase the exposure of the image until you reach a properly exposed starry sky with the Milky Way.

Unprocessed RAW
Adjusted Exposure

White Balance

The next step is to adjust the white balance. When you take picture of stars in AWB (auto white balance) mode, the camera normally produces a very warm toned image.

Since photos of the night sky are naturally very dark, it is difficult to determinate if the white balance is correct or not. But, you can always use a method known as the “Extreme Saturation Method” to adjust the white balance.

Extreme Saturation Method

First, increase the vibrarance and saturation all the way up to 100. Your image will become over saturated and have some hard color transition.

Don’t worry, you can change it back later.

How to Take Pictures of Stars Guide
Boosted Saturation

Next, adjust the white balance by playing with both the temperature and tint sliders in order to achieve a good balance of color transition. You should have some yellow in the center of the Milky Way and blue in the sky.

Adjusted White Balance
Adjusted White Balance

Finally, change the vibrance and the saturation back to zero. With the perfect white balance, your image now looks more natural.

Normal Saturation
Normal Saturation

The rest is your usual editing adjustments. Boost the contrast and clarity, increase the saturation and vibrance until you have an image with a vibrant sky and beautifully contrasted stars.

Final Image

Noise Reduction

Shooting the night sky at a high ISO (1600-3200) typically results in an image with excessive noise. By increasing the contrast and saturation during the editing process, you end up amplifying the digital noise even more.

Start reducing the noise by using the Details panel in Lightroom. If you find it is not possible to achieve the desired results, you most likely need to use a dedicated noise reduction program.

Kevin’s Favorite Noise Reduction Program

Noise reduction is the essential part of astrophotography. 

The amount of noise reduction is different in the starry sky and the foreground. I use Nik Dfine to get the job done. It allow me to create layer mask to give different degree of noise reduction in different area.

Viktor’s Favorite Noise Reduction Program

I use Topaz DeNoise from Topaz Labs on a daily basis. I run noise reduction with DeNoise on every single image I edit. It becomes critical when editing astro images.

]]> 0
Best Hong Kong Photography Spots Thu, 10 Dec 2020 21:53:50 +0000 Read more]]> I have never been to Hong Kong but it has always fascinated me as a potential photography destination. It is definitely on my photography “To Do” list. To better prepare for my first photography trip to Hong Kong, I asked Kevin Choi, a talented and young photographer from Hong Kong, to share his favorite Hong Kong photography spots throughout the city.

Take it away, Kevin.

Best Hong Kong Photography Spots

Summary: Best Hong Kong Photography Spots 

Hong Kong is famous for its vibrant business culture but, it’s also a great place for photography. In fact, while the cityscape is truly stunning, Hong Kong also offers a variety of awesome landscapes just waiting to be captured.

There are many spots throughout the bustling city that allow you to easily capture stunning images. However, many of them are seasonal locations. Being a native, I can’t wait to share with you my eight favorite photography locations throughout the city as well as the best time to capture truly remarkable photos.

01. The Peak

The Peak, also known as Victoria Peak, is the highest hill in Hong Kong Island. It’s an iconic attraction and a photographer’s dream because you can capture the full view of Victoria Harbour.

The view from the Peak, also known as Victoria Peak, is the highest hill in Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong. Victoria Peak
Loc: 22°16’42.1″N 114°08’43.4″E

Even though there is a viewing platform at The Peak, most local photographers choose a different route to avoid tourists and the expensive entry fee. More importantly, the view from the platform is blocked by a mountain.

If you’re looking to capture the best vantage point, I suggest taking a 15 to 20 minute walk down Lugard Road. There, you’ll find a few spots without anything blocking the breathtaking view!

Related: New Zealand North Island Road Trip

Visiting The Peak at night is incredibly popular because there’s so much to see from Lugard Road. Sunrises are stunning especially in the summer since winters are usually harsh in Hong Kong, not to mention the sun is usually blocked behind the mountain in the early morning hours.

Night view from  Victoria Peak Hong Kong
Hong Kong. Victoria Peak
Loc: 22°16’42.1″N 114°08’43.4″E

Without a doubt, the best season to capture The Peak in its true beauty is during the summer from Lugard Road.

02. The Central Business District

In Hong Kong, there are two interesting transportation options—the double deck tram and the double deck bus. After the sun goes down, every vehicle in the city has to turn on their head lights, which gives photographers an opportunity to capture a variety of interesting light trails in the busy city.

Hong Kong
The Central Business District
Loc: 22°16’49.6″N 114°09’37.5″E

In the Central Business District (CBD) of Hong Kong, traffic is nonstop. Moreover, after sunset, all of the skyscrapers in the city light up and create a majestic background that you won’t find anywhere else.

Related: New Zealand South Island Road Trip

From Central to Admiralty, there are a lot of different spots just waiting to be photographed. I suggest using a wide angle lens to magnify the effect of the light trail and ensure you capture it in all of its glory. Also, instead of shooting late at night, shooting in the blue hour will give you a nice blue tone in the sky.

Hong Kong
The Central Business District
Loc: 22°16’49.6″N 114°09’37.5″E

The best time to shoot the cityscape’s light trail is during the blue hour each day.

03. Braemar Hill

Located south of North Point, the Braemar Hill district is full of expensive housing. Photographers love this area because, at the top of Braemar Hill, you can capture the panorama of Victoria Harbour at a unique angle.

Braemar Hill is Located south of North Point, the Braemar Hill district in Hong Kong
Braemar Hill
Loc: 22°16’25.8″N 114°12’04.1″E

If Lugard Road offers the perfect view of sunrise at The Peak, then Braemar Hill just might offer the perfect view of sunset in Hong Kong. Like The Peak, winter is not an ideal time to photograph this location because smog often decreases the clarity of the view and, in extreme conditions, sometimes you can’t even can’t see the IFC building.

In all honesty, Braemar’s lookout is not an easy place to reach as it requires a 20 to 30 minute hike to the top. The problem is that there is no actual “road,” which means the hike to the top is like walking through the jungle.

Luckily, this is a famous location and many local photographers brave the overgrown jungle hike to shoot together. In fact, most of them are polite and kind enough to bring you there if you ask. Just watch out for spider wraps and honeycombs, and be sure to follow the reflective ribbon on the trees as a guide.

Night view from Braemar Hill, Hong Kong
Braemar Hill
Loc: 22°16’25.8″N 114°12’04.1″E

The best season to photograph Braemar Hill is summer at sunset.

04. Tai Mo Shan

Tai Mo Shan, which literally means big hat mountain, is the highest mountain in Hong Kong. Looking down from 957m, you can see how close the country park and city are from above. This is the uniqueness of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong. Night view from Tai Mo Shan
Hong Kong. Tai Mo Shan
Loc: 22°24’44.2″N 114°07’28.9″E

As the city’s highest point, it’s no surprise that Tai Mo Shan is perfect for both sunrises and sunsets. If you’re lucky, you may also see the rare sea cloud in the spring. Sometimes, after heavy spring rains, a cloud will form around the mountain allowing you to capture some of the very unique images from Hong Kong’s highest point.

Getting to the top of Tai Mo Shan peak is certainly no task for the weary. You can take a taxi or drive yourself to the peak where a 30 minute hike will take you straight to the top. But, remember that not every taxi driver is willing to drop you off at the peak. You may need to try a few taxis or ask in advance to find a driver willing to give you a ride.

Hong Kong. Tai Mo Shan
Hong Kong. Tai Mo Shan
Loc: 22°24’44.2″N 114°07’28.9″E

The best season to photograph Tai Mo Shan is summer during sunrise and sunset. If you want to try your luck capturing the sea cloud, be sure to visit in the spring.

05. Shek O

Shek O is a beach in southern Hong Kong Island that just so happens to be a famous spot for pre-wedding photography. At the back of the Shek O village, there is a beautiful blue bridge connecting Tai Tau Chau, which literally means big head island.

Related: Atlantic Seascapes of Grand Manan Island

This is the perfect location to capture a seascape sunrise and a long exposure seascape since the long exposure of the rocky coastline produces dreamy images. To learn more about long exposure, be sure to visit my blog.

Hong Kong. Shek O
Hong Kong. Shek O
Loc: 22°13’46.4″N 114°15’21.3″E

Shek O is also a great place to shoot the summer milky way. Although it is close to the city, the light pollution is blocked by the neighboring hill. Also, the location faces southeast, which is where the milky way rises. However, during late summer, there are a lot of squid boats on the sea and, because of their strong lighting to attract squid, they can also affect any attempt to photograph the milky way.

Hong Kong. Night view of Shek O
Hong Kong. Shek O
Loc: 22°13’46.4″N 114°15’21.3″E

Another unique phenomenon at Shek O is the algae bloom. In spring, the algae bloom is not an uncommon occurrence in Hong Kong. During the bloom, a special type of algae emits blue light, which is also known as blue tears. Although the algae bloom is not necessarily healthy for the environment, it definitely gives photographers the chance to take breathtaking and dreamy images.

 Hong Kong. Shek O
Hong Kong. Shek O
Loc: 22°13’46.4″N 114°15’21.3″E

The best time to photograph Shek O is from spring to summer.

06. Fei Ngo Shan

Literally translated as moth hill, Fei Ngo Shan is also called Kowloon Peak. Excluding Lantau Island, this is the second highest peak in Hong Kong and is located in the northeast corner of Kowloon. From the top of Fei Ngo Shan, you can see a bird’s eye view of the densest residential area of Kowloon.

Night view from Fei Ngo Shan
Fei Ngo Shan
Loc: 22°21’10.7″N 114°13’19.3″E

In spring or after heavy rain in the summer, cloud formations commonly known as sea clouds often surround the mountain. With its height stretching to 602m, you might be incredibly lucky to observe a sea cloud at night when the cloud covers Kowloon and the lights from the different buildings illuminate the cloud for an awesome view.

Related: Top Photography Spots in California

Fei Ngo Shan is not a difficult location to reach because you can take a taxi to the peak and can shoot next to the road. However, because the peak faces south, it’s impossible to shoot sunrises or sunsets from here.

The best time to shoot in Fei Ngo Shan is during the blue hour of spring and summer.

07. Nam Sang Wai

In the northwest of the New Territory, there is a place called Yuen Long that is home to two of Hong Kong’s most important pieces of wetlands—Mai Po and Nam Sang Wai.

The wetlands attract hundreds to thousands of postseason birds to Hong Kong, including endangered species like the black-faced spoonbill. However, Mai Po is a restricted area that requires a permit. Nam Sang Wai, on the other hand, is open to the public.

Related: Utah Landscapes – Top Spots for Landscape Photography

A famous location for bird photography, Nam Sang Wai is also famous for its gorgeous sunrises since its lack of skyscrapers and shopping malls shows another, more natural side of Hong Kong.

 Hong Kong. Nam Sang Wai
Hong Kong. Nam Sang Wai
Loc: 22°27’29.6″N 114°02’02.4″E

A perfect and convenient place to get some fresh air and get back in touch with nature, you can drive, take a taxi, or even ride a bicycle to Nam Sang Wai.

The best time for shooting in Nam Sang Wai is summer at sunrise.

Hong Kong. Sunset at Nam Sang Wai
Hong Kong. Nam Sang Wai
Loc: 22°27’29.6″N 114°02’02.4″E

08. D’Aguilar

If you’re interested in astrology, you can’t miss D’Aguilar or Hok Tsui. Located in the southeastern most portion of Hong Kong Island, D’Aguilar is a marine protected area and is home to The University of Hong Kong’s research center.

Related: Guide to Visiting Antelope Canyon

Because of its special location, there is very little light pollution, which means that shooting the milky way is no difficult task. However, after the fishing moratorium is over, fishing boats begin to light up the sea and create a high volume of light pollution that can affect the clarity needed when photographing the Milky Way.

Hong Kong. D’Aguilar
Hong Kong. D’Aguilar
Loc: 22°12’28.0″N 114°15’36.9″E

Aside from astrophotography, sunrises and seascapes are also ideal at D’Aguilar because, much like Shek O, D’Aguilar faces southeast. And, as all local photographers know, a sunrise with a burning summer sky in Hong Kong is one of the most exquisite images to add to one’s portfolio.

Hong Kong. D’Aguilar
Loc: 22°12’28.0″N 114°15’36.9″E

Transportation becomes a problem when leaving D’Aguilar because, as a protected area, only taxis are allowed. If you’re wanting to take a series of high quality milky way shots and have plenty of time, I suggest booking a taxi at least 30 minutes before you’re ready to leave.

The best time to shoot in D’Aguilar is on a clear night in the spring until the end of the fishing moratorium, which is normally July 31st.

Wrapping it up…

There are dozens more places to photograph in Hong Kong, but these eight locations are definitely my favorites Hong Kong photography spots.

Related: Exploring Vermillion Cliffs of Arizona

One thing I have to point out is a common trait that each location shares—almost all of them are ideal in late spring and summer.


Because the winter monsoon brings tons of suspended particles from mainland China, Hong Kong experiences terribly smoggy weather where air pollutants drastically decrease visibility. Therefore, it’s safe to say that in order to get some awesome photographs throughout Hong Kong, schedule your trip for the late spring and summer!

]]> 0
Long Exposure Photography Without a Tripod Thu, 10 Dec 2020 16:50:50 +0000 Read more]]> If you have followed my blog for a while, you probably noticed that I am big on including open water in both my landscapes and cityscapes. Actually, the majority of my photos have some kind of water in them: oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, etc.

My favorite technique, when shooting water, is to use long exposure photography. When you keep the shutter open for an extended period of time, it creates the unique effect of smooth and silky looking water.

Long Exposure Photography Without a Tripod

My standard approach is to use normal exposure to take bracketed shots of the scene. Afterward, I take a couple of single (non-bracketed) long exposure shots of the same scene in order to achieve this beautiful silky effect in the water.

Later, in post processing, I combine the two shots together in Photoshop, using only the area with the water from the long exposure shot and, the rest I keep from standard exposure. This way, I have beautiful smooth and silky looking water with sharp surroundings.

This is the exact approach I used to photograph McWay Falls in Big Sur. The standard exposure shot was perfect to freeze moving objects in the scene (trees, branches) and, the long exposure shot was great for the water and the sky.

This technique requires a tripod and when you want to slow down the shutter speed in the broad daylight; you also need a Neutral Density Filter. This has always caused problems for me since I often like to go photo hunting in bright light and do not typically carry any extra equipment.

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with a new technique where I can achieve the long exposure effect shooting hand-held, without a tripod. The technique is based on blending multiple images in Photoshop using Smart Objects.

Below is the photo I took last weekend using this new technique. Please note, no tripod was used.

Long Exposure Photography Without a Tripod: Shooting

First, I took 3 bracketed shots as I would normally do when shooting for HDR hand-held. I set the camera to Bracketing Mode and took 3 shots with Shutter Speed values at 1/100, 1/200, 1/400 at F8.

Then, I switched the camera to Single Shooting Mode and took 10 consecutive shots, pressing shutter 10 times manually, of the scene with the following settings: 1/200 and f8.

Long Exposure Photography Without a Tripod: Processing

Step 01 – Import

I imported all 13 images into Lightroom.

Step 02 – Preset Based Editing

I applied one of my Lightroom presets (HDR Blend from Landscape Collection Vol.1) to all 10 shots, those that I took in single shooting mode.

Step 03 – Open in Photoshop

I selected 10 images in Lightroom and used command  Edit In > Open As Layers In Photoshop (right/option click).

Step 04 – Auto Align

In Photoshop, I selected all 10 layers and auto aligned them using Edit > Auto-Align Layers… with Photojection set to AUTO.

Step 05 – Convert to Smart Object

I selected all 10 layers and converted them to a Smart Object (right/option click)

Step 06 – Stack Mode

I used the following command to blend the 10 original layers inside of the Smart Object. Layer > Smart Object > Stack Mode > Mean. This resulted in a long exposure effect by moving elements of the scene (water, sky).

Step 07 – Lightroom

I went back to Lightroom and analyzed 3 bracketed shots I took with HDR processing in mind. But, after further examination, I realized that I could achieve the desirable HDR effect without HDR processing, using a single RAW file.

Once again, I applied the preset HDR Blend to the 1/200 bracket and loaded it to Photoshop as the layer below the previously blended Smart Object.

Step 08 – Masking

From there, it was standard Photoshop processing. I blended together two layers with the help of transparency masks. I used the area of the water and the sky from the top layer and, the rest of the scene from the bottom layer.

I did some cleaning and masking with the Stamp Tool to remove distracting elements. I cropped the image with the Crop Tool to improve the overall composition. Finally, I increased the contrast, boosted the color slightly and applied vignetting.

That was it. I managed to achieve the long exposure effect without a tripod or the ND filter, and without sacrificing the quality of the final image.

]]> 0