Blend City Lights With Luminosity Masks

Architecture photos can be very stunning. Especially if they are taken at the right time of day. The best time of day is during the blue hour. When the city lights have come on, but there is still colour in the sky and detail in the shadows. One of the problems that we face when we are shooting cityscapes are the very bright highlights in the signs, building and street lights. Often exposing for these in a single exposure is often impossible. Therefore, we need to take multiple exposures to capture detail in the very bright lights.

In this tutorial, I show you how to use Luminosity Masks to blend your exposures together, simply. I also show an alternative technique for those times when it’s much darker and the lights are really blowing out.

If you’d like to follow along with the same images used in this video, you can download a downsized Photoshop file below:

Link to Photoshop FilePhotoshop Download Link

Method 1: Using Apply-Adjust-Replace

The Apply-Adjust-Replace tool in the ADP LumiFlow Plugin allows you to apply a mask directly to a layer. And change that mask quickly to see the effect it has on your images. In this part of the tutorial I use a technique to apply a mask to layers exposed for the highlights. With the simple click of a button I am able to blend two exposures together. I run through a few techniques to modify the mask to create an even better final product. I then use a technique I call masking the mask. This gives us ultimate control over how this blend works in every part of the image.

Method 2: Using More Than 2 Exposures

In this method, I show how to use multiple exposures to blend those tricky and difficult lights. Often when you shoot later in the evening or earlier in the morning you end up with blown out highlights, that need to be handled with kid gloves. Using multiple exposures, I slowly blend a little in from each exposure to achieve that perfect final product.

Before & After Cityscape