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Faking long exposure in the clouds

In this quick and 'dirty' tutorial I will share a Photoshop technique I use to mimic the long exposure effect to add drama... For this technique to work you need your image to have interesting skies.. Ok so let's get started...

I chose this lovely panorama I took in Florence, Italy after I have added and interesting sky from Lebanon :) 

BEFORE

AFTER

AFTER

  • Open the image in Photoshop
  • In order to work non-destructively, create a new Layer based on the background layer (Command + J)
  • Select the sky up to the building (selection techniques are not covered in this tutorial)
  • Next we need to allow a breathing space between the building and the sky so as to gently blend. To do that we need to transform the selection. Go to Menu - Select - Transform Selection. The crop handles will now appear. What we want to do is to select the bottom center handle and drag it up just a notch. Press Enter to commit the transformation made to the selection.
  • Now we need to further blend the transformation by creating a feather around our selection. To do that go to Menu - Select - Modify - Feather and change the Feather Radius to something between 10 and 20. I chose 15 for this image. Leave "Apply effect at canvas bounds" unchecked. Press OK.
  • Now the final step; applying a Blur and the best Blur Effect to use for this particular objective is the Radial Blur Filter. Go Menu - Filter - Blur - Radial Blur... and change the setting to Amount: 10, Blur Method: Zoom, Quality: Best, and Blur Center: drag it to the bottom center. Why? because we need to mimic the clouds moving from the center of the horizon line!
  • Press OK and voila. If the look is a bit over, undo and reduce the amount a bit. You might also apply a graduated filter to the below section of the image to mimic the night exposure setting. So simple and now it's your turn!