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How to: Edit the Milky way in Lightroom [Tutorial]

October 22, 2019


Yo what’s up guys this is Morgan
from masphoto Oh this video I’m just gonna show you how I edit the milky way
in Lightroom um I say I because this is just my workflow there’s literally a
billion ways that you can do this but I show you guys some things like that go
through my head as I’m processing these images
alright so let’s begin this is the final JPEG by the way of the picture that
we’re going to be editing and this was taken
that’s a Mount Bachelor in Oregon believe it’s Bend Oregon I think and
that in that general area correct me if I’m wrong but alright let’s get started
so here’s my original raw file my camera settings were ISO 2500 f 2.8 and the
reason I shoot at f 2.8 when I’m doing astrophotography is because the aperture
will be wide open at that point letting as much light that’s out there
into the camera so these little tiny stars they’re super far away 2.8 allows
all of the Starlight to enter the camera the lens of the camera and that’s the
main reason that’s always my starting point especially when it’s super dark or
if I’m trying to to see the galactic center right here which this is the
Milky Way this part of the Milky Way right here the orange and the brown
stuff that’s um those are dust trails in the galactic core and that is only
visible between February and September each year so you can always see the
Milky Way however sometimes it’s just a cluster of stars and so you kind of have
to plan for for these shots a little bit and then my exposure was 30 seconds
some people say 30 seconds is too long I don’t care I mean I shot at 30 seconds
and it it’s a good shot so whatever the stars are they’re they’re sharp enough
for me you can kind of see when you zoom in that they’re trailing a little bit
that’s why they say maybe 15 25 seconds and
again it all depends on what lens you’re using I was shot this with a 24
millimeter lens so it’s still wide enough for for a 30 second exposure
without there being too much too many star trails so imagine if you shot with
like a 70 millimeter lens which I don’t know maybe if you’re you’re into that
kind of stuff it these star trails would be extra long it just amplifies the
motion blur by by a ton so alright these are some things that I usually think
about when I’m editing my my nighttime shot so first thing I do is I always
boost the exposure pretty eye just to kind of see what I have to work with I
already I already know that I’m gonna have to flatten her straight in the
horizon a little bit so we’ll go ahead and do that first I just kinda Alex
looks pretty flat but since we’re just gonna be editing the Milky Way I’m not
really too worried about this the water down here I do have some other shots
that the water looks pretty cool like this one I was just messing around with
it’s not the final but the reflection is pretty sweet I actually remembered these
long streaky lines in the water there’s like a fish or something that jumped out
and added a bunch of ripples so that kind of amplified the the movement of
the water down there but I’m still working on still work on that one but
for this video I’m just gonna focus on the milky way
alright so now I boosted my exposure a little bit I’m gonna kind of play around
cuz I know that this is not what it looked like at nighttime so I’m gonna
kind of adjust the white balance at first I know it wasn’t that orange so
bring the temperature down a little bit make it a little bit colder and then you
can kind of see a little bit more definition the Milky Way right here
already so that’s kind of what we’re going for and then I’ll adjust the tint
a little bit I mean that looks looks good for right now and then I’ll usually
bring the exposure down so I’ve got like the first uhm I got like the basic color
kind of set up this is pitch black sky and then I
noticed this little hue like this greenish tint right here that’s air glow
which is it’s a kind of a green it’s a green gases I believe that surrounds
around Earth from solar storms that’s not Northern Lights but it’s
something that something super super scientific I I don’t want to get into it
right now can’t even explain it but it’s crazy and so I know that that should be
a little bit more green so kind of just accordingly bringing maybe the green
slider down oh it’s too much bring blue make a little warmer a little bit more
green pink bear with me I’m super picky about about the color so that usually
takes me the longest when I’m editing these pictures alright so that looks
about good I know that the the Milky Way I can see the dust trails are obviously
Brown so I know that that color is accurate I know that um the sky was
black so this is kind of a I mean a brighter black it’s not pitch black
because we boosted the exposure so much so I know that that’s about accurate the
light from this mountain right here was bouncing up onto this cloud as it was
coming in so I know that this orange color is accurate as well then we can
just adjust accordingly the next thing that I would do after this usually I’ll
bring the exposure down just a little bit more I’ll the way I like the color
all figured out because you can kind of tell that when you bring the exposure
down this green kind of comes back a little bit more detail in the Milky Way
and the stars and stuff like that so that’s about where I want the exposure
I’ll mess around with the highlights kind of thing about astrophotography is
you want to find the kick contrast literally what you’re capturing is just
darks and highlights so you want to introduce the contrast between the white
stars and then the dark sky which makes editing kind of a little bit
easier I would say because it’s just so focused it’s not like the dark sky is
not just gonna somehow be you know a highlight in your scene and then the
stars aren’t gonna just be a you know a dark shadow for any reason so it
separation is really uh it really is really cool I’ll usually I’ll bring the
blacks down a little bit to create that separation between the stars and then I
bring the whites whites up just like that kind of make the picture pop and
then you can see in the the dust trails right here is kind of getting a little
bit brighter still a little muddy so I think it pop just a little bit more here
we go something I’ve learned over time editing these pictures is you like white
is kind of you want to boost the whites that’s what draws your attention to
wherever you’re wherever you want the viewers eye so that’s kind of important
sometimes these pictures if they’re just muddy imagine like just posting if I
just posted this picture even if I just like brined it up a little bit it’s like
what do I look look at everything kind of just blends in so you really want the
tonal separations and that’s what I generally go for when I’m editing these
uh these Milkyway shots it really really brings your work to the next level all
right so kind of after I have like the highlights and the shadow is blacks
everything where I generally think is good shadows up just a little bit kind
of just gonna get a little I want to set some separation between these this tree
line right here and then mountain Bachelor in the background and also
you’ll see it kind of brightens up the horizon line right here between the
foreground in the Milky Way but you don’t wanna bring it up all the way well
I mean also you want to yeah I think that that’s good it just gives me enough
detail right here on the mountain where I’m happy with that
it’s kind of since I’m boosting the shadows down here it was really dark
before it’s kind of introducing a little bit of noise but I’m not too worried
about that right now yeah looks good I usually I’ll play with the
vibrance crank that up just a little bit or a lot just want to see just want to
see what colors are there so when I go down to the HSL sliders I know exactly
what colors I’m going to target so obviously 63 is way too much vibrance
for this image but I can see that the greens are there I can see that there’s
like some purples and I’m like orangie Browns yellows blues and the and the
galactic core and then I can see that obviously this is blue up here might go
to start off for vibrance usually like 25 just kind of boost those the color
levels just a little bit and then you’ll have something to grab on to
I don’t really mess with the the hue slider a lot you can mess around that if
you want maybe if I want to change the color of this airglow the green or if I
want to make these dust trails a little orange err instead of just being brown
um you can click on this thing it’s a lot tool all right here and then it’ll
pull whatever color you overlay on see he’s kind of changing but I don’t want
that there’s something fun to mess around with sometimes I’ll usually test
out the waters every once in a while but not right now so sit saturation sliders
I like I said I want to bring these greens up so I’m gonna put this tool
back I know I want the green specifically so we’re gonna kind of
boost those a little bit maybe since it’s a little muddy down there with the
luminance I’ll bring the greens up right here to just kind of make the horizon a
little bit brighter saturation for orange for the dust trails what kind of
boost those a little bit it’s kind of breathing some life into into the shot
already split toning that looks good for now usually I’ll work over the image
like three to four times this video might be pretty long so if you can pick
something up from it though I guess that’s a there’s what it is that’s all
that matters right the blue I do like the blue in the sky so let’s see if we
can change boost head up a little bit that’s kind
of cool and then so I kind of see like the the pitcher starting to come
together I just worked my way down I don’t really touch lumens too often
unless I it like I said like the green it kind of got muddy down here so I made
that just a little bit brighter it kind of that makes the whatever color you’re
working with that just kind of makes it a little it brings the color exposure up
I guess or makes it darker if that makes any sense
um it’ll probably help I understand a little better once you start playing
with it split toning kind of cool if you want to do some some funky effects to it
I don’t ever really play with this but that’s kind of cool sometimes I actually
don’t learn there right there wait yeah that’s kind of cool um you see before
and after before yeah it’s not that bad it’s a little a little purpley I might
change that later but like I said sometimes you just never know unless you
uh see you mess around mask the best that’s the best way to learn so for now
I guess I’m gonna keep it mmm I turned it way down low so you
can’t really tell it’s I think I liked it just enough to to keep it there so
basically that the highlights the hue slider turned the highlights purple or
more purple so like the sky up here where it was blue and stuff we kind of
just changed the hue a little bit to like a lavender tone and then I brought
the saturation up just a tiny bit and you can see if we bring up a lot its
kind of adjusted adjust the highlights in the scene so it’s kind of leave it
wherever it was at 20 I feel good at 11 all right so I’m not even gonna play the
shadows because I like the black shadows right there they’re bold it looks good
to me I will always I’ll always a touched a
mess with the detail slider last just because I don’t know what kind of
just in case maybe I introduce a little bit more contrast somewhere or if I just
as I’m editing the pictures something changes I just like to do that last
because then I can fine-tune sharpening and I’ll show you my secret uh my C bit
my secret star sharpening technique it’s pretty sweet so you’re gonna watch a
shelf of that no matter what I always click remove chromatic aberration even
though more than every time I don’t have any just that’s just something good I
guess to click I’ll check and see if I like the enable profile correction I
don’t do that a whole lot with my photography I kind of like the vignette
and kind of gives you know the uncorrect it it kind of pulls your eyes more to
the center of the frame so if you want to enable it it’s all you if not that’s
cool usually if I’m shooting like portraits or landscapes depending on on
what the subject is I’ll always check and make sure if I if I like it
with or without the profile correction all right working our way down this is
actually really really cool this thing right here that’s bright not going to do
much for for this video I over for this photo but I always click on them just
kind of see where what it does to the images I found that instead of using
like a tilt shift lens sometimes if you’re shooting like architecture and
stuff like that these these buttons come in handy you’ll have perfectly straight
up-and-down lines rather than leaning over buildings and stuff so I’ll just
check it out some from time to time then getting like sometimes I’ll do that in
Photoshop D haze now this is what uh this is the interesting part now this is
a this is something new I think Lightroom introduced last year and it’s
amazing for astrophotography especially if you’re trying to pull the milky way
out of the night sky but at the same time it works amazing but you don’t want
to use it or you want to overuse it because then you’ll kind of get some
haloing around hours and stuff like that so it it’s for
haze obviously if you ever played it that you just drag the slider a little
bit and you kind of see what was hazy er like the whites and the highlights
around the sky are slowly starting to disappear I’ll crank it up all the way
just to show you guys like that’s disgusting so yeah I never do that okay
if that’s what you that’s what you like then it’s uh that’s alright but I
usually I’ll keep mine around like 10 15 20 tops usually because I’ll go through
and I’ll I’ll add more to the Milky Way so see I just want a little bit just to
kind of clean up these highlights right here 20 is too much for actually no yeah
alright so 5 is just enough I think let’s click before and after it’s just a
little tiny difference but it’s all the little things that yeah see it barely
made a difference but you can kind of see as I click it on and off it’s
introducing a little more contrast in between these dust trails and then
between the Milky Way and in the night sky and the stars and yeah in the sky as
well so 5 is good for now then this is the fun part you can also see that the
DA is kind of introduced some more color tones to the project I’m gonna bump the
saturation a little bit more that’s pretty cool saturating down normally I just work
with the vibrance but uh sometimes different different projects call for
different different techniques so I like the color where it’s at right now now
let’s bring out some more detail in this Milky Way now there’s two ways I usually
do this either use the with the the circle tour here the radial filter and I
will just draw like an oval around the Milky Way invert it so I can see all
right so right now the tool is affecting the outside of the Milky Way but you can
see I can drag it on top of you collect a core right here and then adjust
accordingly so I know so that’s basically where I want it you want to
feathered in to maybe add a little more feathering yeah so that’s pretty much
where I want it now I’m gonna go ahead and invert the the filter so that it’s
just adjusting basically the Milky Way and I only make the exposure all the way
down just so I can see exactly where it’s at so we’ll reset the exposure
that’s this is why I went easy with the D haze before so I’m gonna kind of D
haze a little more all right here in the Milky Way just kind of add a little bit
more contrast and you can adjust this to the radial filters to kind of line up
with the Milky Way a little bit more but I noticed when you do use the D haze you
gonna want to and you’re gonna have a lot more color correcting to do and
you’re gonna want to adjust the whites I notice it gets pretty muddy sometimes so
okay I’ll bring the whites up quite a bit and then if you’re looking over here
at this thumbnail you can already see Ike the milky way starting to pop that’s
what we that’s what we’ve been so we’ve been going for is that the milky way pop
that looks good right there I’ll always double-check the color temperature
usually I just play right back to where it was just gotta be curious I guess because
you never know kind of like a little bit of purple a little bit of magenta yeah
okay so that looks fine to me maybe boost and see exposure a little
bit it will boost the exposure just a touch all right so that’s where I want
that right now sometimes I’ve never really used the
clarity tool unless it’s something like this with the with the controlled filter
around the Milky Way sometimes a little bit it’s just like
the D haze too little too much is as too much but sometimes I’ll introduce a
little bit of clarity just to the Milky Way just kind of just make it a little
more def definite just to make it a little a little clearer there you go add
a little bit of definition that’s what we’re going for
all right so mm-hmm yeah so that looks good to me click off this now I’m going
to play it the contrast slider bring it loose contrast a little bit make all the
colors and all the light pop mmm it’s looking pretty good already I don’t see
at this hotspot right here I don’t even mind that it’s not blown out there’s a
little bit of detail in there which is fine just enough some of these play like
these little hotspots it’s just it’s a I honestly do not mind it but some people
freak out about that kind of stuff so you can adjust that you want bring that
the highlights now just touch but I don’t like that cool so I mean it’s
whatever that looks fine to me a lot of people don’t like too
overexposed areas but I mean when I first look at this shot it draws my eyes
right to the galactic center and I just makes it a little bit more majestic I
guess so yeah this is a that’s pretty good for now however now I don’t think I
like this split toning I’ll turn that off barely made a difference but
whatever oh yeah sharpening so now that um now we have
everything done we can if the image is a little too static for you sometimes I
bring the clarity down just kind of soften it a little bit not too much like
that looks way better the kind of clarity if you if you tone it down a
little bit you you’re not losing detail you’re kind of blending it together
I’d say it’s maybe like negative fifth or negative 15 negative 15 just to kind
of see how like the trees are all sharp and everything was just super sharp and
Static sometimes I’ll bring it down just to kind of blend the colors and just
blend the scene together just make it a little bit sharper maybe even negative
20 all right so that I do like the way that looks all right negative 25 yeah all right and
then this is the super cool sharpening part just so I can see exactly what
parts I’m affecting I’ll just change the sharpness to a hundred and you can see
it already kind of bring the detail back that we lost when we turn the clarity
down just made everything a little bit sharper and then this masking tool is
the ultimate guide to sharpening nighttime shots so I want to make sure
the image is sharp but what I really want to make sure like I don’t need to
be sharpening the sky I want the the stars to be sharp I don’t really want
the mountain doesn’t have to be super sharp maybe just like the outline of the
mountain because when you start sharpening everything like no
becomes introduced you can see like down through here it’s already can pretty
noisy because we brought the shadows up but we’ll fix that in Photoshop all
right so this masking part right here after you sharpen it the picture what I
do is I’ll put my I’ll click on the slider and hold the alt button or I
don’t know what it is on a Mac optional they slide it over and you can actually
see it will outline in the image what is making sharper so as I drag it yeah you
can see right there the white outline of the mountain the white outline of the
tree lines obviously all the white dots in the sky that means it’s only going to
sharpen what what you see right there I’ll let go that’s all I want sharpened
and it brought the detail and the sharpness back to the sky that we’re
looking for so that is uh yeah that’s looking pretty good right now something
I don’t like well this picture and I’m gonna just I’m gonna extend this to to
Lightroom or any Photoshop I’ll press ctrl Yi just to send that to Photoshop
I’ll kind of do my finishing touches in Photoshop usually sometimes my computer
it doesn’t really like when I’m making these um recording these 4k tutorials
and using Lightroom and Photoshop all at the same time so whatever I’m going to
pause it for a second until the till it loads up all the way alright guys so
we’re back I got the video finally your picture
finally back up into Photoshop and I’m just gonna duplicate that real quick
something that’s been bugging me it’s just I don’t like the light yeah maybe I
do so we’ll see and I’m you know I always a double check if something
catches my eye I’m just new outline that filler real
quick I pressed uh actually ctrl F but I programmed Lightroom or Photoshop to
automatically have that that shortcut so that is not the same for you guys
um does it look better with waiter without that yeah it’s a little
distracting I like it better without and then I
always will double-check contrast sometimes I don’t like to do anything
Otto but I’ll do the auto contrast and just see what the what Photoshop thinks it’s pretty close I also didn’t yeah
cool so looks like I was pretty close to to what Photoshop thinks would be
correct and but something that also catches my eye is this whatever this is
probably this is probably an alien ship right there and so I’m just gonna edit
that out cool that looks good I’m gonna add a little vignette kind of
down here to the bottom so for like a vignette in Photoshop I know there’s a
probably an easier way to go about doing this but what I do is I always uh there
I usually will just duplicate the image layer and then change the blending mode
from normal to multiply so it’s darker I’ll use this tool right here and since
I just want kind of like a top and bottom not like it not really even yet
but um I would like the top and bottom to have a nice smooth darker gradient
I’m gonna do this with this square marquee tool and just Center that right
there then I’ll hold the alt button with that selected I’m going to press right
here this mask icon and by pressing alt it’s gonna give you an inverted mask
except you can see that the tops and bottoms are still our dark are still
dark from from this layer right here so with the mask selected I’ll go to filter
go down to blur and then Gaussian blur it’s already set to 69 so usually I’ll
change that to like 500 I mean this depends on how big the image is that
you’re working with so if I’m sure if I’m doing this with a git drone picture
I’ll Pike you around 200 or something for this picture 500 looks pretty good
and then I’ll just kind of compare it before and after taking this on and off
you can see that kind of cleared up the the dark or the purples down here and
the magenta they were kind of getting from shooting at such a high ISO I’m
trying to recover that detail this kind of this technique kind of covered that
up made it a little bit darker well if I like it that much in the sky though so
what I’ll do is I’ll just with the black brush I’ll color on the mask over the
top big just kind of get rid of that yeah so that looks better already
make sure and that kind of just draws your attention straight up to the sky oh
and then I’ll change the opacity a little bit yeah so that looks pretty
good right there one thing though you notice when you
click this on and off it’s kind of interfering the darkness is interfering
with the mountain and the horizon line so that is another thing I’m gonna do is
I’ll just make the brush a little bit smaller and I just if I was actually
adding this picture for the first time I take a lot longer kind of making sure
this was all precise with a with my Wacom tablet Wacom tablet however you
say it but yeah so that was good it’s me and I’ll press ctrl shift alt e’ if
you’re on a Windows computer it’s gonna kind of merge all the lower layers into
one and then save it and then it will just kick you right back after it’s done
saving that will pop back up in Lightroom and that would be it so again
this is just how I edit just want to give you guys some ideas while you’re
put while you’re editing your nighttime shots just some
things to think about I’ve been doing this for a while now and I kind of I’ve
come up with a bunch of different techniques and workflows I guess so I
just help you were able to pick someone from this video and let me know in the
comments what you think if you have any techniques yourself that maybe maybe I
didn’t use that I can learn from you or let me know what you guys want to learn
in the next video alright thanks guys and see you next time

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