Aurora Lighthouse

Northern Lights HDR Photography

HDR exposures

HDR means ‘High Dynamic Range’. Multiple exposures are combined to give the result that a single exposure couldn’t achieve. For this scene, I actually took 3 exposures. First was the sky for 25 seconds, then the landscape for 225 seconds then the lights for 1 second. This final exposure was never used in the final image, so this is a 2 exposure HDR.

Here is the unprocessed 225 sec exposure open in Lightroom so you can see the histogram.

Exposing for the shadows Northern lights HDR

225sec Exposing for the shadows. The histogram tells me that I have all the shadow data.

Lightroom shadow adjustment

All of the shadows are included in the exposure, so I can go ahead and increase the levels of the shadows by boosting shadows and blacks. Then using de-haze to introduce contrast I maintained a ‘Night Look’.

LR shadow adjustment

Shadow levels increased with shadow and black slider.

The 25 sec sky exposure was given a similar treatment in light room to boost the shadows in the sky to give a better print.

Lightroom adjust aurora sky

Increasing shadows in the sky.

Photoshop Layers

The next step is to open both images as layers in Adobe photoshop. It is possible to open both files as layers, but I just open both files and used Select all > Copy > paste to add 1 image as a layer on top of the other. I selected the brighter pixels in the top layer (brighter image) by using ‘Ctrl+Alt+2’ to select the highlights, then holding shift, I was able to add to the selection until the whole sky was selected.

Layers in photoshop

With the brighter image on top, I used ‘Ctrl+Alt+2’ to select the highlights.

With my selection, I click the Mask Icon to turn the selection into a mask. Then I invert the mask (Ctrl+i) to allow the highlights from the bottom layer replace the highlights in the top layer.

Highlight mask photoshop

The highlight mask is inverted to reveal 2 perfectly blended exposures.

Comet Thing

Magical Iceland Northern Lights Some comet disappearing into the North sky over Iceland. Not sure what caused all that green blurring? Maybe it is comet gas? Or green Goblin Fire. This was new moon time at Jökulsarlon. Posted by Iceland Aurora Photo Tours on...


Magic Cloth Images A tough place to compose!! Posted by Iceland Aurora Photo Tours on 2013-09-27 01:36:43 Amazing adventure! It certainly was an outstanding Icelandic scene!! And certainly worth the trip. Be sure to choose the right equipment for Magic...


Magic Cloth Images Loving my new Gitzo... heavy to lug around, but wonderful to be able to get to any height. Some scenes are just worth persevering with, this is maybe take 10, The mix of sea and sand is just right. “To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This