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Editing Night Photos In Lightroom

Editing Night Photos In Lightroom

July 23, 2023 08:22 PM by Isaias J | Discover

This article will go over the basics and the advanced part of night photography. The photo editor of choice is Lightroom with the Plugin Dehancer. Software will be done in a separate section.

The article will also serve as a direct reflection of night photography editing, best practices and effects on your final photos.

Editing Night Photos

Editing night photos can be a challenge depending on what software you use. The amount of software that you may decide to finally use is endless, but I’ll name a few: Lightroom, Photoshop, Capture One, Luminar Ai, Photos App, Google Photos, or any in-app camera editing.

When editing night photos, it is important during the shooting process that you have your getting close to what you want the photos to look like. However, shooting underexposed or overexposed can help too in night photography for certain cases. Make sure to review the Histogram and the Night Photography Articles.

Night photography photos often skew right of the histogram. The right of the histogram represents the dark point of an image, the left represents the brightest point. The more spikes on the left, the likelihood the photo is either underexposed, dark, or data may be difficult to recover. Pure black isn’t the worst thing in night photography.

Having a night photography photo with spikes on the left will share that there was a light source brighter and may have lost the data.

Anywhere in the middle may be an average exposure for night photography. It may even be too bright to look like a night photo. Using RAW photos will help you maintain more information when you take images than a JPEG photo.

Common Aberrations in Night Photography

The following are Aberrations or artifacts that come with night photography. These artifacts may be used for artistic effects or may be avoided. Discolorations, Noise, Flares, Blurring, banding , chromatic aberrations, sky hue changes. Any of the suggested editing techniques may be changed, or an advanced technique may be used.

Discolorations may be certain points on your camera sensor that are sensitive to light and create different or exaggerated colors than what are seen in the camera. They can also occur from longer exposure to your lens, and light reflections on your lens. This will need HSL slider changes and possible adjustment brushes.

Noise is another artifact that occurs when shooting at night photography. This is due to the sensitivity of your camera's sensor. The sensor sensitivity is controlled by the ISO setting. You may be pushing your camera to the limits in some scenarios and this will call for Noise Reductions in Photo editing.

Blurring may occur due to movement of the camera. In some cases this can be changed with minor adjustments. You may also use Artificial Intelligence to help you solve this issue. In some cases you may need to find another image to work with. Other times you can manipulate the surrounding pixels or the entire image through contrast.

Lens Banding and chromatic aberrations may occur because of higher aperture numbers. This happens during the day too, but may be more prevalent because there is less color in the total image. This can be fixed through chromatic aberration filters provided by the camera company located in the profiles tabs in Lightroom. You can also reduce it through local adjustments or the HSL sliders.

Sky Hue changes commonly present themselves in long exposure night photography. This is because sky hue takes all the colored photons in the sky and mixes them together over time. You may get yellow skies if you are in a polluted area or have traffic in the skyline. Oftentimes you will need to change the global temperature. You may also have to do some work with the HSL tabs to get the color correct.

Stacking Images

Night Photography can be enhanced by stacking multiple exposures of the same photograph. This will allow you to light the foreground, background and subject. Often they are done in Astrophotography to create light trails.

Stacking images can either use the same exposure settings and a change in movement. This will have one exposure but capture movement. You could do this with light trails, however the results will turn the entire image to white eventually, since light goes in all directions and will bring the average up. For light trails, it is best to do a longer exposure.

[For light trails try out the Bulb Setting on your camera that will allow you to take exposures longer than 30 seconds]

Stacking images can also be done using bracketed exposure. Bracketed exposures will take multiple images of the same scene with different exposure and combine them to create a whole average exposure. This is called stacking for dynamic range.

Focus stacking is another example. Focus stacking works by focusing on different subjects in the same scene. You may focus first on a subject close to the camera, the foreground and then the background. Generally with the same exposure so the photos combine when you get them into an editing app.


Night photography editing is a crucial aspect of the creative process that can elevate the impact and quality of your final photos. Whether you choose Lightroom, Photoshop, Capture One, or other editing software, understanding the specific challenges and artifacts that come with night photography is essential. Shooting for exposure, reviewing the histogram, and using RAW photos can provide a solid foundation for editing.

By honing your editing skills and experimenting with different effects, you can bring your nocturnal visions to life and produce stunning night photography that leaves a lasting impression on your viewers. Embrace the creative possibilities that night photography editing offers and let your imagination soar as you craft mesmerizing images of the nocturnal world.

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