Milky Way Photography: Lightroom Tutorial – Basic Workflow

Hey, everybody, it’s Rob Nelson here with Rob and Jonas’ Filmmaking Tips. And I’m going to take today this photo, and I’m going to turn it into this photo. And I do all of that through some very simple workflow. Today I’m going to talk about how I use Lightroom to do astrophotography, and particularly how to pull out the Milky Way out of an image. Now, this all started when Jonas and I decided we wanted to ask you all for different photos. Favourite raw photos… So, before I get into the astrophotography bit, I just wanted to show you a couple of the images I got. Kind of show you how I quickly worked them up., because I was really only picking one, but I got so many cool ones. Essentially what I’m going to do is open the raw folder here, and then show you how I did it. So BackBurner here shot this one in Washington D.C. and I took it and you can pull a lot out of it. I added some solar flares, just made it a little warmer. David Mikic shot this one, and I kind of just reframed the shot, did something like this, didn’t do a whole lot to it. I really liked this shot. Rob Nelson sent this one to me, another Rob Nelson, believe it or not. And you can take it, and just pull out the Milky Way just like that, which is so cool. And I’m going to show you another one of his photos later on. This was a photo shot in Budapest. I just pulled a little bit out of it, because if you shoot raw you can do a lot to it. Owh, and I quite like this shot by Shannon Hill. I basically just reframed it, added a little bit of color. And I really like the way that one looks with the old airplane seats. It feels like 1985 Berlin to me. And this one was shot is Southeast Asia, by Jessie I went ahead and I recropped it, and turned it into that. Although, this is the one Jonas is going to be working on, so, I’ll let him manipulate that one a little bit further. I didn’t spend enough time on these shots, but that’s because I’m spending time on this particular one. Now, it does not look like a whole lot from here. And this is partly why I wanted to show you guys my workflow, because of course I’m going to be making it look like this. Which I think is really cool. So, let me show you how I do all this. First of all, I open up Adobe Lightroom. And then what I’m going to do, just going to go over here to the ‘Library’ function. And I’m going to select my photo. ‘Night Shot’, right here, I just renamed it. I’m going to drag that in, and then you go in down here and say ‘Import’. Now, part of the reason I want to show you guys this, is just show you my workflow, kind of show you how I manipulate photos. Okay, so here’s Lightroom. First thing your going to do is go over to the ‘Develop’ tab. From the ‘Develop’ tab you have a whole punch of things you can manipulate right here. So, let’s just with that. First of all, it’s super dark, so, I’m going to up the exposure, so that we can start to see that Milky Way. Now, you don’t want to go too crazy, because you want to be able to get a little contrast you know, in the Milky Way still. So, what I’m going to do, let’s see, take the blacks down just a little bit, maybe the whites up. I’m trying to make this pop just a little bit. Add a little bit of contrast here. Now, what you’re seeing is happening, is the Milky Way here is popping quite a lot, which is really nice. But the people here are starting to get dark. So, what I’m going to do is I’m going to add a little bit of a gradient. Right here. So, you click on that button, and then you just drag it. Let’s just drag it a little bit here. Now, there’s a few presets that I need to manipulate here. One of which is, you can’t probably tell right now… So, if you zoomed in on Youtube, then you could see, there’s a lot of grain right down here. So, one of the things I need to do is, I need to make sure my that sharpness is actually not turned to high, because you see what happens when you add sharpness. It can look cool when it’s a small thumbnail, but not when it’s blown up. So, we just drag that all the way to the end. Maybe not too bad. But dehazing here is just going to add some sharpness. Let’s zoom back out. But we also want to not make the clarity too much, we want to keep it fairly soft, because it is a night photo, if not it’ll get grainy. The other thing though that I’m going to do is, I think I, because it’s a night photo I want it to be totally blue, I mean it’s a night sky. So, I’m going to take the temperature of this gradient down just a little bit. But actually maybe add a little bit of green, because I need a little bit of color in this shot. Okay, then I’m going to add another gradiant, and this ones like a circle gradiant. So, what I’m going to do is I’m going to drag it right over the Milky Way. Like that. Now, obviously what it did is that it went the wrong way. And so, I need to invert that mask just so that it’s on the inside. And so you can see as I brighten it up it brightens. And I think what I want to do is I want to make the Milky Way pretty purple, because I think that looks cool, but I, I’m going to feather these edges quite a bit. So, not too much, just a little bit there. Okay, owh, I like that, I like that a lot. Now, one trick that I want you guys to think about when your working with photos is really think about where you’re going to deliver it. First of all, if your going to make a huge print you need to be really aware of your grain, of the amount of noise that’s in your photo. But if your just making a little tiny thumbnail for a Youtube video, then you need to look at your photo in thumbnail view. So I need to make it really, really, really tiny. Like that. So, I’m just looking at it like that, and you’d want it to pop., and your maybe not so worried about the grains. So, for instance I could take this, because if it was going to be really tiny, maybe I’d take this gradient here and I add a little color to the whole photo. I don’t know. So that maybe when it’s in thumbnail view, it has a little bit more color. Which is kind of cool, if you’re just looking at it from the thumbnail, I think that makes it pop quite a bit more. But again, if it’s large it looks a little bit ridiculous to have that much color. Okay, so this photo, I think, works pretty good as is, but the nice thing is i can also crop it, because I think I want those people perfectly in the middle. So, something like that would work. And then maybe I bring it in just a little bit. Now, what this does, of course, is you know, as far as the rule of thirds goes, here these people are down here on the lower third line. These are power points right here. And they’re looking up drawing your eye up to that Milky Way. So, I quite like how that looks. Maybe we need to bring it in just a little bit there as well. Okay, now.. A few other things that you can do while you’re in Lightroom is a lot of people like to add a vignette here. So, you can do something like that. Now, I would say be very careful with your vignettes, because you can add it, and it’s one of my biggest pet peeves seeing people put vignettes on everything. Honestly, I’ve done a lot of it myself too, but just be careful with it, you don’t want it to look like it has a vignette. So, maybe just something real subtle Like that would work okay. I think this right now, as it is is looking pretty good. Let me show you a few other things that I usually look at, when I go into the photo, just to see. First thing is, I, maybe not so much with these photos, but I’ll go in, and I’ll choose a couple of different ways to tone the highlights and the shadows, and just kind of see how it looks usually I’m going back and forth between this gray one, and this kind of pinkish one. And, you know, a lot of this is choice. I kind of like that warmer look so I’m going to go with that right at the moment. The other thing that I want to do is I want to go down here to… Where is it? Owh, dehaze. Okay, dehazing for the shots that I do, I often times want them really kind of sharp. And so, If you, if there’s like haziness in the sky, and the more you slide that the more it’s going to dehaze it, but you got to be careful, because you don’t want it to get too grainy. I think it’s getting a little bit grainy. So, that’s all I’m going to do this photo. As you can see it did not take very long. The last thing that I’m going to do is
I’m going to go up here to file, export, and then because I put everything in a
Rob and Jonas’s dropbox folder it’s already chosen. I’m going to keep the
same file except i’m going to start it at four, so I know which one it is Keep everything pretty much standard on
here. I don’t need to resize it, I’m just exporting it for my own web purposes. I’m going to send it out and here it goin to export right there. It’ll be done in a second. And that’s all there is to my workflow. Now, to be totally honest with you, I really like manipulating photos mostly in photoshop. I showed you this Lightroom workflow just because I do a lot of it when I do time lapse photos. So, if you want to see my time lapse series, I put the link in description down below. Also, Jonas took all of these photos himself, and worked up one of them. So, I’m going to leave that video link at the end. We will see you next Tuesday. For more tips and tricks on filmmaking, photography subscribe, if you have not done it already, because not only are we teaching you the technical details on how to be a filmmaker, but we are showing what you need to do think like a filmmaker, make a living like a filmmaker, that’s what we do all the time. Hopefully, we can share that with you. We’ll see you next week. [Subtitles by: MM] ***Remove this if you wish***

100 Replies to “Milky Way Photography: Lightroom Tutorial – Basic Workflow”

  1. Rob,
    Which computer do you have/use for your editing software. Also, which kind of computers do you recommend for advance editing software ? Thanks !

  2. What's your email please?
    I love the way you work and explain everything
    So I would like to community with you please
    Thank you soooo much

  3. you got my Sub.
    You brought back my will to do such photos.
    I am a depressive person and honsetly, not long time ago lost my last freinds and lost my hope and will doing anything.

    But this brought back at least my will to continue photography.

  4. There should really be 2 categories, actual photography (manual skill) and post processing taught as animation not photography. I came to this video from another video where a guy was telling people all the stuff he covers in his ebook on photography, not only where his photos boring, but one of the 'techniques' was to stack hundreds of photos (in which there were only a notes currency laid out in a room) in photoshop to make 1 photo that looked like there were money everywhere in the room. I was so disappointed with his so called technique.

  5. While some of his photo edits are a bit extreme, I think for someone like me who's not familiar with using lightroom its still a great tutorial. The concepts and how to get more out of your photos is what I'm here for. Whether you prefer natural looking pics or colorful unnatural looking ones is a matter of preference really, so I would say still great job with the tutorials, keep it up!

  6. Nice tutorial. A lot of people don't understand that Tutorials are made to show you a technique. I really don't get it all those bad comments about the results, guys, he is just showing how to do it, you should explore the possibilities and make what you think is better.

  7. A lot of haters everyone is a critic if it pleases your eye great!! If not move on there is no point to hate.

  8. is it possible to take night shot like these without the heavy editing? Like just straight out of the camera

  9. Good but there's a line you cross with processing, beyond which it ceases to be photography, and you crossed that line here. Not one of the people in that photograph would recognise the scene, despite being in it, which is to say you have adapted it beyond recognition.

  10. Come and see my page thanks greetings

  11. digital photo professional has a feature to remove noise, like red and blue type noise grain when you have bigger ISO. makes photos look fantastic, doesn't that have that?

  12. All editing up to the min 3:48 is authentic, and is real, Youre just enhancing the best of what a camera can take out of the real world, when shooting RAW files.
    But After that, to me, is shitt.
    Messing with the color gradients and even changing them, sounds like you want to impress some kids with somethig they will never be able to see with their own eyes.

  13. Ok, one of us is confused here.. why are you referring to that portion in the sky as the Milky Way? The Milky Way is an entire galaxy.. which we are in.. and would be impossible to photograph. Help me out here.

  14. In my opinion it is overdone … leave it like 3:02 and i think its much more realistic . Just pop the milky way but in a natural way

  15. To stop your monitor flickering on your video, you can change the Hz to whatever FPS your video is being recorded at.
    I think that'll fix it, anyway.

    Thanks for the video, I like the look of the photos.

    best photo editor automatically only works for instagram select your photo by opening this link

  17. I have no idea what you are doing……… Editing seems to be so darned complicated. How do you learn any of this stuff !

  18. A little off topic, but can someone answer this; Can a HDR photo be taken and saved as RAW? I like shooting in RAW, but when I change my Canon 6d to HDR mode, it gives me JPEG. THanks

  19. This is insanely cool, I had NO IDEA you could pull out such strong astronomical images out of regular night sky! Its incredible! Please keep this video up in the air and ignore haters! This helps me alot. They're just jealous cause ur awsome

  20. Just wanted to make sure everyone knows that if they drag the noise slider down like you did in Lightroom, it introduces noise. If you drag it up, it reduces noise.

  21. All hail the photo Gods! You guys are amazing! Thanks for sharing your genius with the rest of us mere mortals.

  22. I really don't get how all of these youtubers that show Lightroom editing have absolutely no idea on how to properly edit….It's like seeing a child play with sliders

  23. That's not bad, but I think at this photo Milky Way seems unnatural. Where have you seen a purple parts in Milky Way?

  24. I like the silhouettes look. Reminds me of MST3K. You never get to see the full detail of those characters but that's how you remember them I guess.

  25. Reading some of the comments, some of the folks have forgotten that this is a tutorial not an art show. Thanks for demoing your LR workflow.

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