Essential photo editing tricks for landscapes: 12 Light painting
Pro photographer Steve Sharp says
Light painting is a technique I use quite a bit in my landscapes. For a typical light-painted landscape I'll shoot various exposures, usually a three- to five-minute exposure for the ambient sky shot and then a series of shorter light-painted exposures for the land.
I shoot Raw files and convert these via Lightroom, and my first step is to reduce noise in the long exposure of the sky.
I make sure to view the file at 100%, and dial in enough to effectively remove the noise without blurring any star trails. I'll also adjust the White Balance, Contrast, Curves and sometimes Vibrance if need be.
My light-painted exposures will have a different Raw conversion. I'm only concerned about the land in these frames so there's no noise reduction needed because I want to keep the detail.
I'll choose a white balance that best suits the tool I light-painted with, which is usually a torch. I dial in a good amount of Sharpening and detail so it looks nice and crisp. Again, I'll tweak Contrast, Curves and Vibrance.
Once all the Raw files have the parameters applied, I batch convert them to TIFF files and open them all in Photoshop.
I use the long exposure sky shot as my master file and then paste all the other light-painted shots onto this file. I then set the layer Blend Mode to Lighten, which allows only the lighter pixels to be visible.