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This is one of my older photos, the one I took 4 years ago while traveling to Italy. I tried to process it before on a couple of occasions, but I never was happy with the final results. Years later, I decided to give it another try using my new and improved processing techniques.
It was the middle of September, and Venice was packed with the tourists. Because I did not see any opportunities to use my tripod I left it in the hotel. The entire day I was shooting hand-held, taking 3 bracketed exposures for each composition.
First, I used the HDR Pro module of Photoshop to merge 3 bracketed shots to HDR (check my free guide “Natural Looking HDR Workflow“).
When a new HDR image was saved to the Lightroom catalog, I applied the Tropical Morning presets from my Landscape Preset Collection and adjusted Exposure using ToolKit adjustments.
I was happy with the look of the photo in general, but I did not like the way the water in the canal appeared. Plus, the sun’s reflections in the water looked to strong and unnatural.
This is when I decided to use a different processing technique only for the area of water. I described this technique in detail in one of my tutorials Long Exposure Photography Without a Tripod.
Before I could start, I had to equalize the exposures in all three bracketed shots. I used Lightroom feature Settings > Match Total Exposures (Develop mode) to achieve it.
Step 2. I applied the Easy Cross Lightroom preset from my Landscape Preset Collection to all 3 images. The preset emphasized the gold color in the highlights and added green hues to the dark areas of the image, including water.
Step 3. I selected 3 images in Lightroom and used command Edit In > Open As Layers In Photoshop
Step 4. In Photoshop, I selected all 3 layers and auto aligned them using Edit > Auto-Align Layers… with Photojection set to AUTO
Step 5. I selected all 3 layers and converted them to a Smart Object
Step 6. I used the following command to blend the 3 original layers inside of the Smart Object. Layer > Smart Object > Stack Mode > Median.
This technique produced a long exposure effect on the water.
The finals step was to blend together two images in Photoshop with the help of transparency masks. I used the area of the water from the “long exposure effect” image and the rest of the scene from the HDR image I created at the beginning of the editing.
Deconstructing Featured Photo
- Camera: Canon 60D
- Lens: Sigma 17-70mm
- Focal Length: 40mm
- ISO: 100
- Aperture: F8
- Tripod: hand-held
Processing: Lightroom Preset Based Workflow
Lightroom: import, tagging, export to Photoshop HDR Pro
Photoshop: 3 exposures ( -1, 0, +1) used to tone map image, 32-bit tiff image was saved to Lightroom (see my free guide “Natural Looking HDR Workflow”)
Lightroom: straightening, cropping, preset based processing (Tropical Morning preset from Landscape Collection), export as PSD image
Photoshop: cleaning, contrast, transparency masking.