Tag Archives: landscape photography

Dealing with a blown-out moon in landscape photos

Using Photoshop to create natural landscape photos that include the moon

In landscape photography at twilight, the moon will most likely be blown-out. Here’s how to get a natural moon exposure in your images by using Adobe Photoshop.

When photographing landscapes at twilight that include the moon, proper exposure can be nearly impossible to achieve. That’s because while the dim light of twilight requires a relatively long exposure, the moon requires nearly a sunny-16 exposure. As a result, there is no one camera exposure setting that will get the scene right. Your options are:

  • Under-expose the scene and recover shadows & highlights in post
  • Properly expose for the landscape and blow out the moon
  • Bracket exposures and combine them in post

All of the above options have drawbacks. In an under-exposed image, you’ll be prone to getting noise when you try to recover shadow details, and you may or may not be able to recover detail in the moon. If the moon is very small in the frame (as with wide-angle lenses), you can make the conscious choice to just allow it to blow out completely. Bracketing exposures is another option, but I’ve found that traditional exposure blending or HDR tone-mapping just doesn’t quite produce the results I’d like, because the blown-out areas around the moon often bleed into the sky or are exacerbated by thin clouds.

Recently while I was in the field, I decided to try a variation on exposure blending. I captured two shots: the first was exposed only for the moon, and the second shot was properly exposed for the landscape. I then used Adobe Photoshop to combine the images, but instead of just blending them (as with a traditional composite), I had to completely remove the blown-out moon from the landscape photo using Photoshop’s Content-Aware Fill tool.

Video: Processing Landscape Photos with the Moon (Photoshop)

Tip of the Month: The Sky That Almost Wasn’t

Fix a weak sky using Lightroom Classic’s Dehaze Slider

Fix a sky in Lightroom with the Dehaze slider.

I was out photographing landscapes the other morning at Garden of the Gods, and the sky was just not great. Fortunately, I capture all my photos in raw format and make sure that I expose as to not blow out the highlights. Turns out, there was definition in the sky, but I had to bring the image into Lightroom Classic to fix it. I used the Dehaze slider and local masking to pull it off:

Fix your weak sky with the Dehaze tool and local masks using Lightroom.

Getting it “Right” In-Camera

Full moon over Face Rock, Bandon, Oregon. © 2019 Jason P. Odell

Digital exposure is about data, not the final image

Photographic capture is not about “getting the image right” in-camera. It’s about recording the *best possible data* to further work on in post. In other words, we try to make sure that the original exposure preserves the elements of the image that are important to us, so that we can then execute the final image (in the darkroom or on the computer).

Continue reading Getting it “Right” In-Camera

Badlands 2020 Photo Safari

Landscape Photography Workshop, August 26-30, 2020

South Dakota Badlands
©Jason P. Odell
Photograph the beauty of the South Dakota Badlands August 26-30, 2020

I’ve just returned from South Dakota after an outstanding landscape photography workshop, and I’m pleased to announce that I’ve scheduled dates for next year. 2020 will mark my 10th anniversary workshop in South Dakota, and I’m looking forward to meeting you there!

Badlands Photo Gallery

This workshop is a comprehensive landscape photography experience, with a wide variety of shooting locations and in-depth training on workflow and post-processing techniques. Each day, we’ll photograph sunrise and sunset, and then spend several hours together learning how to make your best images stand out with fine-art processing tools.

Workshop Topics Include

  • Composition & Exposure
  • HDR & Panoramas
  • Image Processing in Adobe Lightroom Classic & Adobe Photoshop
  • Focus Stacking for Landscapes
  • Sharpening in Lightroom & Photoshop

Early bird registration is discounted by $100 when you book by Dec. 31, 2019

POTD: Follow your Path

Dawn in Badlands National Park, South Dakota ©2019 Jason P. Odell Photography

I’m looking forward to returning to South Dakota next week for my 9th annual Badlands Landscape Workshop. It’s a fabulous location for sunrises and sunsets, and offers spectacular scenery and the opportunity to use a variety of photographic techniques. I hope you’ll consider one of my photography tours as part of your path towards better photography.

Shooting Data

Nikon D850 with 16-35mm f/4 AFS G VR Nikkor lens
1 second, f/14 ISO 64
Gitzo Carbon-fiber tripod with RRS BH-55 ballhead