Cape Cod Light at Night

This is the Highland or Cape Cod Light in Truro on the Cape, at night. The town glow and the lighthouse light itself was a serious challenge - not to mention the glow from Na lamps

What technical feedback would you like if any?

How to neutralize the lights on 3 parts of the fence and the bright town light above the middle fence glow ?
*Thanks @Ed_McGuirk for your technical suggestions. I used a L3 Lights mask and with a black brush kept the Curves > Multiply effect to the fence and glow above the fence only. Repeated x 1. *
I was still not happy :slight_smile:
Then using the TK Color tone, I brushed in some darker colors from the sky

And whilst in PS - corrected the perspective of the bottom Left and Right areas via Transform> Warp

Thanks again @Ed_McGuirk

What artistic feedback would you like if any?


Pertinent technical details or techniques:

(If this is a composite, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)
Shot for the night - 15 seconds, F 2.8 Iso 4500

  • Lt Hs light was exposed for a much shorter time and blended in
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Can’t help with the processing but I really like the shot. Especially how you’ve managed to blend the lighthouse light in. I’ll have to try that the next time I shoot at night.

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Pretty darn sweet image Karl. The processing of the house and dark sky look great. And the composition works really well too, the fence and tree line add a nice framing element to the Milky Way. This image is very crisp and clean looking.

Regarding the light glow above the fence. I did a rework, using a TK L3 mask, added a curves adjustment layer, set the blend mode of that layer to multiply at 100%, and then I duplicated that AL (ending up with two of the same for double strength). This dropped highlights everywhere, including in the stars, which I didn’tt want. I then put the 2 AL’s in a group with a black mask, which hid the adjustment. I then used a white brush to paint in the highlight darkening along the fence at 100% opacity, and around the light at 50% opacity. you can play with the AL opacities if this drop in luminosity looks to be too much.

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IInstead of what you did, I would suggest just following my technique, and just playing with the opacity of the multiply blend layers if you want it slightly brighter than my rework.

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I think this is a “wicked good” shot as they say in New England. I would not change a thing. I wish I had such interesting foreground subject matter around here for shooting the milky way. Well done.


This is a superb shot, Karl. I agree with everything Ed first mentioned regarding composition, etc. and I also prefer his revision, but he kinda lost me with technique as he is much better at it than I. As for your three images, I prefer # 1 best.

Beautiful shot, thanks for sharing.

Thanks Bill

By #1 you meant my last redo on the top of the stack ?


Yes, that is correct.

Bill, Karl and I are friends that live about an hour apart, and we shoot together from time to time. Since last summer, I have been helping Karl to learn about using TK luminosity masks in his processing. My detailed reply to him might appear cryptic to folks who do not use TK, but I knew it would benefit Karl. Bill, if you do use TK, and want a more reader friendly explanation of the technique discussed, let me know and I’ll happily oblige. If you don’t use TK, then this is too complicated to simply explain to non-users, other than to say TK is a powerful way to select very specific tonalities for adjustment, that goes beyond what is possible in Lightroom.

Karl, for other readers, it might help to edit your post and add a label in front of each image, so they can easily follow the evolution of it thru reworks.

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Ed, yes, I do use TK masks and what was throwing me the most was your term AL. Yes, I would love a more reader friendly explanation! I can always use a little more education. Thanks!

I’m a lazy typist AL = adjustment layer.

Karl wanted to tone down the highlights near the fence. I made a TK Lights 3 (L3) selection to target those tones, then applied the L3 mask mask to a curves adjustment layer. i did not do anything to the curves, but changed the blending mode of the layer to multiply, which darkened the lights selection. I then duplicated that adjustment layer to get even more darkening. This toned down the highlights near the fence, but it also darkened the stars which I did not want. So I placed both curves layers in a group with a black mask on it, this group mask hid all the adjustments. Then using a white brush, I painted onto the black group mask to reveal the highlight darkening, but painted only over the fence area to localize it (and keep the stars intact). I hope this helps.

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Excellent. Thanks so much, Ed. I appreciate your explanation.

Good guy Ed @Ed_McGuirk