How to fake Long Exposure without ND Filter or Tripod Adobe Lightroom / Photoshop – Episode #5


Hi guys, and welcome to the episode number five of my lightroom tutorials. Today I will show you a very cool technique that you can use to fake a long exposure in this tutorial I will use both Lightroom and Photoshop. I don’t like fakes… but sometimes you can’t simply make a long exposure because for example you forgot your ND filter at home or maybe you can’t use the tripod in a specific location. Last year I was in Northern Spain, at the san Juan de Gatzelugatxe with my wife, and as you can see from this little footage the wind was very crazy and we barely could stand on our feet I had my tripod and my filter and I was not able to use them because of the crazy wind. So, like Gunny said once I had to “Improvise, adapt and overcome!” Let’s see what we can do: first of all I have to say that if you want to use that technique you have to decide it on the field because you will need several pictures to create the final image. In this case I shot 10 pictures in manual mode waiting few seconds between one and another All the pictures was taken with the same settings and the same shutter speed trying to be as steady as I could using the tripod as monopod If the movements are little, there will be no problem As you can see I left something like 3 or 4 seconds between the pictures because the wind was very strong and the clouds were moving very fast. Depending on the situation you can have longer times between the pictures for example if can be good for 10 seconds ok now I start to retouch one of the ten pictures with my usual workflow So I adjust the light I put a graduated filter in and I can select all the picturesthe sky and a radial filter in the sun light then I make a very clean HSL retouch If you have not seen any of my other episodes you can check them because I’ve explained my workflow in my other videos. Now the retouch of the first image is complete and I can select all the pictures and click on “sync” I Make sure to check all the options, so now I will have all the pictures retouched as the first one. Here to be sure I check that all the pictures have the retouch applied so I can move on to the next step. So let’s select again all the pictures and right click on the selection then move on “Edit in” and click on “Open as layers in photoshop”. If you see a warning click on “open anyway” and wait. Wait a little bit because that phase can be slow depending on your pc speed and the number of the images. Once the import is complete you can open the layer window by pressing the F7 key or by clicking it and you can see all the images appearing as layers Then by keeping the shift key pressed I select all the layers then I move on the Edit menu and I click on the “Auto-align Layers” function That process will aligh all the images automatically and it will solve the movement problem between the shots Keep the auto mode selected and click on OK. That part can also be slow, so prepare yourself to wait. Ok, now the alignment process is complete and as you can see, it created some spaces outside the image. That is due to my little movements, so now I have to crop away this little spaces. I could also fill that spaces with the “Content-Aware” fill but in this specific case… I think … that the space I have to sacrifice is not important on both the sides of the pictures so I prefer to crop In other cases you could prefer to use the content-aware fill system because maybe maybe it can avoid to cut out important parts of the image too. ok Now the crop is ok …and I can move on The next step is very important for the final result because what will I do can affect the image sharpness and I have to figure out how to keep the image sharp. So now, I choose one of the layers that can be the first or the last, but also one in the middle, and I duplicate it. I rename the layer as “Sharp Layer” ok… or at least I try sharp. layer. ok then I drag it on the bottom and for now I keep it non-visible Then I select all the other layers I right click on the selection and I click on “Convert to Smart Object”. Guess what? This also can take some time but patience is a virtue, so I wait Ok the smart object is created and now is the best part of the tutorial: I select from the “Layer” menu the “Smart Object” option then Stack Mode and then I select “MEAN”. Of course I have to wait a little bit…. but… at the end… wooh! That is our fake… Long Exposure Of course is not perfect as a real one but if you take the shoots well It can be very similar to one real Ok now let’s calm down, and check at the problems! If you look at the difference between our sharp layer, in the lines on the coast and the mountains between the fake exposure, and the sharp layer you can notice that in the fake long exposure, at 100%, is not as sharp at it should be So I figured out my personal way to fix that aspect. Leave the sharp layer as background and create a layer mask on the layer above that is the smart object. You may have just see what I’m doing, and that’s simple: I am creating a negative mask on the smart object, so I can… Paint back with the white… Only some areas like the sky… and the water… Now with a big brush I start to paint… the layer back over the clouds and as you can see… it works! Now I have the lower part with the Sharp Layer And the upper part, now off and on, with the smart object Then with a smaller brush I can paint over the water sorry I can paint over the water Something can change because… the “Mean” choose some parts from a specific layer, so.. I can paint over the rocks, and the rocks… may be not as the same shape as the one on the sharp layer… I don’t know if I am clear but… All the layers are not the same, becase the water is covering the rocks, and so if I paint back a rock from another layer can be different from the one I have on the sharp layer but ok I am covering all the water… and now it looks much better I can check at 100% or turn on and off the layer what is the final result ok so the lower part is sharp, with all the details… well visible and now I can check if all is ok and maybe I can paint back with the black and a small brush some details that maybe I’ve covered before with the white and the big brush so if you are looking for sharp details on the rocks, you can… paint back on the little objects and the black so it can take out as you can see as I said before, the shape of the rocks can change if I paint with the black over it Ok now the image is complete, I select both the layers then I right click the selection and I click “Merge Layers”. then I save the image ok now only a little crop at the bottom because, there was… a little space, maybe one pixel… so I save the image and I can go back to lightroom to take a look at the final result so guys… I have to admit: that for me is a very cool technique to show you… I hope it can save your ass in some bad moments like mines last year, That can be very frustrating… only one day in a beautiful place and you can’t take the picture you want… but maybe sometimes that workaround can be very useful… I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Let me know what do you think in the comments, please, this is the first time I tell you, like and share this video to support me subscribe for more, and for now it’s all! Bye bye!

27 Replies to “How to fake Long Exposure without ND Filter or Tripod Adobe Lightroom / Photoshop – Episode #5”

  1. How each image should be taken, (interval, shutter value (in seconds)); I mean for the clouds, for the water, one 1 sec exposure would be enough, right?

  2. Amazing tutorial, thanks. I'll try this method since I my entry level D3300 don't have a multiple exposure option and I can't afford anymore gear right now, like filters and lenses. Cheers!

  3. Hello =) Grazie per il video =) I wanted to ask you if you really did not use any tripod?! Is it really possible to hold the camera in same position and take pictures for 10-15 seconds? I hope you understand what I mean; it is difficult to stick them together if you move =) Maybe I can use the continuous shot function for it or what do you think?

  4. What a great tutorial this is! I've heard about this technique but I never really understood how it worked! You explained it perfectly well I too cannot wait to go out and try it myself!

  5. I loved this tutorial. I have seen a few which showed stacking images, but none that mentioned the idea of keeping a sharp image layer. Subscribed. Thanks Thomas.

  6. Is it possible to use this together with focus stacking? Where I have same images, but I want extract the sharpest areas from them.

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