• Premium Lifetime access

  • Long Exposure Milky Way RAW Editing Tutorial

    Share on pinterest
    Share on facebook
    Share on tumblr
    Share on twitter
    Share on whatsapp
  • In this tutorial we are going to edit two raw photos of night Photography.I will show you how to edit two long exposure photos in Lightroom/Camera RAW and Photoshop and get a nice image. The final image is created from two images: one of them exposed for the stars and the Milky Way and the second one exposing for the road and the car headlights.

    Long Exposure RAW editing tutorial

    Long Exposure milky way. Double exposure night photo editing in Photoshop

    Both images were taken with a 30 seconds exposure in order to get the light trails of my car going down the road but I changed the ISO and aperture when I exposed for the stars. Here are the settings I used for both images:

    Car headlightsMilky Way
    • ISO: 100
    • Aperture: F3,5
    • Exposure: 30 seconds
    • ISO: 1000
    • Aperture: F2,8
    • Exposure: 30 seconds
    TIP: For night photography always shoot raw. You will get a better dynamic range and your Milky Way picture will come out a lot better.
    These settings also depend on your camera and the lens you use. I use these night photography settings for time-lapse. With the settings shown on the table above, the car headlights are well exposed, but the surroundings are a bit underexposed and the Milky Way was quite heavily underexposed. I should have used a much higher ISO but luckily I shoot raw and when you edit raw photos you have a lot more dynamic range.

    Editing the RAW Photos in Lightroom or Camera RAW

    NOTE!: These settings are not the same as the ones shown on the video tutorial

    I usually use Lightroom to edit raw photos but you can open them in Photoshop and you will access Camera RAW which is exactly the same as Lightroom but on a different interface and started editing the image of the car headlights.

    Likewise, I increased the Exposure to 1.25, bumped up the Clarity and Shadows and changed the White Balance to get a colder look on the image. Furthermore, I also increased the Saturation and Vibrance to make the image more colorful. You can edit raw photos depending on your own taste. Check the settings below for more info.

    Long Exposure photography editing tutorial

    You can further edit the Tone Curve to correct the contrast edit your night photos in Lightroom or Camera RAW. I also use the HSL module to selectively edit the colors, especially the red color on the rocks left by the breaking lights. With this module you can make the red more intense or make it darker or brighter.

    How to edit RAW long exposure photos in Lightroom
    With the HSL module you can edit color selectively in Lightroom/Camera RAW

    Remove chromatic aberrations with the Lens Corrections module. You can do this in Photoshop as well but doing in Lightroom or Camera RAW it’s a lot easier and usually more effective. Also sharpen and reduce noise to your liking.

    Reduce Chromatic Aberrations on night photos

    Edit RAW photos of the Milky Way

    Editing the second raw photo of the Milky Way it’s more of the same thing. Just increase the Saturation and  exposure a bit because I took the Photo too underexposed. Then use the HSL Sharpening and Noise Reduction modules to fix and edit the image your way. I did not use any local adjustments but you can use Graduated Filters if you want. Also try using the Split Tone module.

    Milky Way RAW editing tutorial

    Composing both raw photos in Photoshop

    When you’re done editing open both images Photoshop. Do not apply any distortion corrections otherwise your images will not match. You can correct distortions once both images are merged. Put the Milky Way image on top of the long exposure shot with the light trails. Use the Quick Selection Tool to select the sky and hide the bottom part of the image using a layer mask.

    Composing long exposure images in Photoshop.

    Once both images are well composed you can merge them or create a stamp of the visible layers and make more color or contrast adjustments in Photoshop. When you’re done, make your image a bit smaller and sharpen it. Your Milky Way image will look a lot better when it’s sharp.

    Other tutorials

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.

  • Keep in touch

  • © PSD Box 2010-2022 | Andrei Oprinca

    What's new in 2022

    In this video I will highlight the most important changes and new releases in 2022.

    If you are a member and have any problems accessing the site or downloading the premium content, please click the “I need help” link on the top menu bar.

    Log in

    Access your account

    Don't have an account?

    Create a free account and unlock hundreds of free downloads: PSD files and tutorial resources

    Novedades en 2022​

    En este vídeo destacaré los cambios más importantes y las novedades de 2022.

    Si eres miembro y tienes algún problema para acceder al sitio o descargar los contenidos premium, haz clic en el enlace “Necesito ayuda” de la barra de menú superior.

    Iniciar sesión

    Accede a tu cuenta

    ¿No eres miembro?

    Cree una cuenta gratuita y desbloquee cientos de descargas gratuitas: Archivos PSD y recursos