An accurate photographer obviously uses ND-filters to realize a long exposure. Nonetheless, in practice we don’t always carry them with us or don’t have an appropriate ND-filter for all our lenses. Admittedly, last time I just forgot to take my strong ND 3.0 filter with me. So what may I do in this case? In this little tutorial I want you to show how to create a long exposure in post-processing using Adobe Photoshop.

It is as simple as it seems. On location, you just have to capture your scene at least 10 times (20 or more is better). So take 10-40 images of the exact same scenery. If you’re not sure about the number of pictures you could take a short timelapse and use the images for both timelapse and long exposure. Therefore, you obviously have to use a stable tripod and ideally also a cable release.The amount of needed images depends a lot on your purpose: Do you just want to flatten out water you obviously need less images (10-20) than if you want to make clouds blurry (20-40).

Back home, load your pictures into Lightroom. Select your pictures in Lightroom, right-hand click, select open as layers in Photoshop. Depending on your RAW-file size and your computer model, this step may take a few moments.

Right-hand click –> Edit in –> Open as Layers in Photoshop.

In Photoshop select all layers and go to the upper menu bar. There you’ll click “Layer” à “Smart Objects” à “Convert to Smart Object”. This step may also take a second.

Layer –> Smart Objects –> Convert to Smart Object

Afterwards, you again go to the top menu bar and choose “Layer” à “Smart Objects” à “Stack Mode” à “Median”.

Layer –> Smart Objects –> Stack Mode –> Median

No magic at all, it is as easy as it looks like. Try it yourself. If you have any questions just post a comment below.