Multiple Exposures

This technique involves using a tripod and shooting two exposures from the exact same place, with the same aperture, but with two different exposures, and more importantly, at two different times of night. The first shot, I'd recommend you shoot at dusk or twilight so that you get a little of the light from the sky (here it is a little light from the overhead ceiling light). This shot can be a little darker than normal (under exposed).

Then, leave your camera set up exactly as it is (in a safe place), have dinner, or do something else for a few hours, and then shoot another photograph from the same place. In this second photograph, make sure that there are now artificial lights on that were not on before, such as street lights, security lights, interior lights, etc. For this exposure, let it be very dark overall, but with good brightness in the actual lights themselves.

Finally, we'll combine the two images together to form a much more interesting night image. You'll put the second image on a layer above the first image, and change its blending mode to "lighten".

I might recommend using both a tripod for this, and using either the self timer built into most cameras, or an electronic shutter release which can allow you to trip the shutter without touching the camera. These seem to come in both cable, and wireless versions.

  1. Turn off the flash
  2. Point and shoot style cameras should be kept on wide angle
  3. A Mode (aperture priority mode (or manual))
  4. Expsoure compensation may be required for best exposure in low light
  5. Use self timer so that you don't nudge the camera
  6. Manual focus may be required for the dark shot because of the lack of light
  7. Shoot one image in subdued light (i.e. dusk, or indirect indoor light)
  8. Leave camera unddisturbed on tripod for enough time that the lighting in the scene totally changes (i.e. street lights, interior lights etc. come on).
  9. Shoot a second exposure (remember that manual focus may be required) and make sure that this image (minus EV may be necessary) is dark and only shows good exposure for the lights themselves.

Composition your Two images

  1. Bring both images Photoshop Elements Editor
  2. Cascade the windows so that you can see both images in their respective windows
  3. Use the move tool to drag and drop one image into the other
  4. Snap the top layer into place so that they match
  5. Exit out of the single layer document to avoid confusion
  6. Change the blending mode of the top layer to "lighten"