Long exposures make for some great images, especially around water. But what if you weren’t planning on heading out to take a long exposure and didn’t have a tripod with you? Or worse, what if you didn’t notice how cool that shot would be with a long exposure until later? Well, there is a way that you can imitate this look in Photoshop. This post-processing long exposure photography tutorial works particularly well for water photos. It’s more time intensive than actually doing a long exposure, but hey, it’s pretty darn cool.

Achieving this look artificially involves using several layer masks. With a layer mask, you can brush over the areas of the image where you want the edit to show up—which means you can blur the water without blurring the rest of the image. Along with layer masks, you’ll use a few blur filters. To make the effect look more realistic, you’ll use the select and paintbrush tool to add in some randomness to that too perfect blur.

Here’s the long exposure tips video with a step-by-step look at just how this is done:


Pretty cool, huh? Again, we stand by the idea that it’s easier to get it right as you shoot, but it isn’t always possible (no one is perfect). If you have a few water shots that around sitting around your computer because they’re just not amazing, try this cool Photoshop trick at home.