How to paint with light

Step-by-step: Editing

1. Load your images

Painting with light editing

Open Photoshop and go to File > Script > Load Files into Stack. Browse to and select all of your car shots, and click on Open. Click on OK in the window that appears and you should see all of your selected photos stacked in the Layers palette in a single document.

2. Blend them together

Painting with light editing

To begin the process of merging your images, change the top layer's blending mode to Lighten, then right-click on that layer and choose 'Copy Layer Style'. Hit shift and right-click on the bottom layer to select all the layers, then right-click on any layer and choose 'Paste Layer Style'.

3. Mask out distractions

Painting with light editing

To mask out unwanted items in a layer (flashgun, softbox or photographer), left-click on its layer thumbnail and hit the Add layer mask button at the bottom of the Layers palette.

Click on the newly added mask and paint with black using the brush tool (B) to remove distractions.

4. Add some polish

Painting with light

To make the highlights bright and shadows dark, add a Levels adjustment layer: left-click on the Create new fill or Adjustment layer button at the bottom of the Layers palette, then drag the highlight arrow to the left and the shadow arrow to the right to increase the contrast.

5. Minimise reflections

Painting with light

Use the Patch tool to improve the look of reflections. Make a selection around a reflection, then click and drag it to a more desirable-looking area to resample the texture and smooth any imperfections. Use this plus some clone stamping to make the car gleam.

6. Light the floor

Painting with light

Grab two shots where the light was hanging over the car (ensure the light is hitting the ground in front of the car) and follow steps 2 and 3 again for them. Now you should have your ground below the car – make sure your mask doesn't extend past the front or rear of the car.

This feature was originally published in N-Photo Magazine, to subscribe, click here