How To Create a Long Exposure Effect in Photoshop Add drama to your landscape photos

In this video tutorial photographer, Glyn Dewis shows how you can add drama to your images by creating a long exposure effect in Adobe Photoshop.

Long Exposure Effect in Photoshop

When shooting dramatic landscape photos (or even outdoor architectural shots) there is always an advantage to capturing the entire drama in camera. This is especially true for things like long exposures of waves, waterfalls, and clouds.

However, what can you do for images that you have already captured without long exposure or in cases where there was simply no time to capture the shot in-camera as a long exposure?

The answer is re-creating that look in Photoshop and that can actually be simpler than you might think.

In the first half of the video, Dewis demonstrates how you can create this effect on an image that only has clouds (and you can actually create an image with clouds very easily by opening a white document and going to edit>sky replacement and choosing the sky replacement and picking up whatever cloud pattern you like).

In the second part of the video (5:18), Dewis takes a look at a more realistic image of a car with some clouds in the sky. Here we first need to choose the sky. The first step which is always a good practice is to create a duplicate layer (ctrl+J) and then choose the sky. There are many ways of doing that in Photoshop but a simple modern way is to go to select>sky and clean up anything that needs/doesn’t need to be part of the selection by using the lasso tool for example.

The next and very important step is to push the selection just a tiny bit up. To do this press ctrl+T and move the lower part of the selection up just a little bit (no need to actually move the whole selection just to push the lower part above the horizon line).

The next step is to add a little bit of blur. Press Q to add a mask (make sure that it covers the selected areas – you can see how in 7:17) and then go to filter>blur>gussian blur and choose 10.

Now you need to actually blur the sky to create the long exposure look. First, go out of the quick mask by pressing Q again and then go to filter>blur>radial blur and move the center marker to the lower part of the blur center frame, choose between 10-20 on the amount and zoom as the blur method and best for quality and you are done!

Long exposure sky in Photoshop with objects

In the last part of the video (10:27) Dewis demonstrates how you can overcome the problems that might occur when you have an object as part of the sky that you want to blur.

In this part, you can see that when you choose the skies and lift the selection it only moves the selection up but not away from the object that is in the skies. The solution here is simple – press Q again and use a soft brush (hardness set to 0%) and paint over the horizon line where the sky meets the ground (and your object). You can use the shift and click to “draw” lines with this tool.

Now you can press Q again and do the same procedure all over again -filter>blur>radial blur, move the center marker to the lower part of the blur center frame, choose between 10-20 on the amount, and zoom as the blur method, choose best for quality and you are done.

You can find many more Photoshop video tutorials on LensVid’s Photoshop section. You can also find more of Dewis’ videos on LensVid on this link.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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