Beach campfire scene, need some pointers


TPF Noob!
Nov 28, 2012
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whitby ontario
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Hey Guys

I've had an idea for a shot I've been wanting to take up at the cottage for quite sometime now and potentially enter into a cottage photo contest run by a cottage magazine up here in Ontario. I'd like to compose a beach campfire shot with a nicely exposed campfire and the night sky and stars up above in the background. I'm thinking that this would be hard to accomplish in one shot and was thinking that I would have to take an exposure for the fire and then the night sky and stars and combine the 2 in photo shop later. If anyone has any pointers at all on how to achieve a nice end result that would be great!
I guess it depends on how you want the end result to look! If you want to get the stars, people around the campfire will be blurry, but movement might work for the photo. If not, I think doing multiple exposures would work nicely too. Maybe even consider shooting at dusk before it's pitch black! That'd be a really nice look for a campfire shot.
The sky and the fire/people around it are sufficiently distinct parts of the photograph that you could stitch two exposures together trivially by hand.

Just do the two exposures like you said, import both as layers, and use a very soft edged brush or selection with "refine selection" and "Feathering" to erase the non-target area of the layer on top (e.g. if the star exposure is on top, erase the campfire and people from that layer with a feathered edge).

Don't worry about selecting every stupid little tree branch or the brim of a campfire dude's hat or whatever. Just do very rough angular paths around approximately the edges of the two regions (with a level of precision you might expect from an 8 year old using safety scissors is pretty much sufficient), and make the feathering at least 100-150 pixels.

You may want to consider making the campfire exposure a little longer than normal (a few seconds even, perhaps, if the people will stay still for you) and/or slightly overexposed, in order to make it look a little bit more natural, as if mayyybe sort of it coullllld have been one photograph

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