Thursday, February 25, 2016

Milky Way over Fruita Schoolhouse - Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Final image is a blend of two exposures and several post processing steps in Photoshop ~ © Royce Bair

NightScape Exposing and Post Processing Tutorial. Last autumn I photographed the historic, 1896 one-room Fruita schoolhouse in Capitol Reef National Park. Here is a step-by-step tutorial of that process.

A quick overview shows the original camera raw exposure on the left. The second image is with a Photoshop Curves adjustment to the sky. The middle image shows a very long exposure to record foreground detail from starlight. The fourth image is a Photoshop layer blend of the two previous images. The final image shows building perspective adjustments and minor color changes. © Royce Bair (click image to enlarge)

Image #1. Original camera raw exposure with light painting. F/2.8 • 20 seconds • ISO 6400 • 3800ºK White Balance. Two Z96 LED panel lights were used to do stationary light painting (during the 20" exposure) on the schoolhouse —one was about 100 feet away, to the left, and the other was behind the building, shining through a window to simulate a kerosene lantern inside the schoolhouse. Orange filters (3200ºK) over the lights were used to create a warm color balance. Light intensity on the schoolhouse was reduced by a -2 EV (using the dimmer switches on the panel lights). Canon 5D Mark III with Tamron 15-30mm lens @ 15mm.  © Royce Bair

Image #2. The night sky has been selected and a contrast producing S-Curve adjustment has been applied via Photoshop's Curves (using a Curves adjustment layer).  © Royce Bair

Image #3. A second exposure was made only minutes after the first exposure. This exposure is for additional foreground and landscape detail, and is made using only starlight —the panel lights were turned off. The exposure was f/4.0 (for added depth of field) • 785 seconds (with long exposure noise reduction turned on) • ISO 3200 • 3800ºK White Balance. Note star trails in the overexposed sky.  © Royce Bair

Image #4. A blend of the starlight exposure (selecting only the foreground portion) and Image #2. The blend is made using Photoshop layers. © Royce Bair

Image #5. Final image is partially corrected for keystone distortion that comes from aiming a wide angle lens upwards to include more sky in one's composition. Correction is via Photoshop's Edit > Transform > Distort menu. Partial correction causes some cropping of the image. Full correction can produce an architecturally correct image that is not always aesthetically pleasing —which also results in even more cropping to the image. Some additional color correction was added to this final image. More technical details and explanations for shooting, planning, and processing are in my e-Book. © Royce Bair



  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I own your book and used the info on a recent trip to Fiji. I got some nice photos, but not nearly as good as yours. The tutorial above is awesome, as is the final result.

  3. Thanks for sharing this to us, your blog is really great we can learn something to it. Very impressive, love this post! keep up!
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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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