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How to Create a Colorful, Long Exposure Photoshop Action

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Welcome to our Photoshop in 60 Seconds series, in which you can learn a Photoshop skill, feature, or technique in just a minute!

Photoshop in 60 Seconds: Long Exposure Effect

Long exposure photography is known for creating stunning photo effects with long, streaking colors. And you can easily apply a cool long-exposure-like effect to your work with a Photoshop Action. Short on time? Download one of our amazing premium Photoshop Actions from Envato Market or Envato Elements to enjoy this effect in seconds!

In this quick video below, learn how to create a long exposure Photoshop action with linear gradients and more!

How to Create a Long Exposure Photoshop Action

Let's start with the action. Open your photo in Photoshop; here I'll be using this Glamour Stock.

Glamour Stock from PhotoDune
Glamour Stock

Go to Window > Actions, and set up a New Action in the Actions panel. When you're ready, click the Record button to record the next steps.

Set up the exposure action

Create a New Layer named "mask." With the Brush Tool (B) selected, paint over your subject with any color to create a mask. Select the mask with the Magic Wand Tool (W), and then select the background layer and hold Control-J to Duplicate it six times.

Hold Shift and click to select each of the bottom four duplicates, and with the Move Tool (V) active, move each layer over by holding the Right or Left Arrow keys. Then select all four layers and set the Opacity to 50%.

Create long exposure duplicates

Right-click one of these layers and go to Blending Options. Add a red Gradient Overlay, and then Copy and Paste that Layer Style onto the three other layers.

Red Gradient Overlay

Merge these layers together. Duplicate the merged layer once, applying a quick Motion Blur with a Radius of 100 pixels to its copy. Then Duplicate the copy twice more. Set the bottom gradient layer to Linear Light, and then select the two above it and set the Opacity to 64%.

Right-click the top layer (Layer 1 Copy 5) and go to Blending Options. Uncheck the Red Channel option under Advanced Blending, and then move the layer to the left with the Left Arrow key. 

Lower the Opacity for the layer underneath to 70% before applying a subtle Motion Blur with a Radius of 10 pixels. Finish this effect by adding Layer Masks to blend the images into the background. Do this by painting black onto the white masks with a Soft Round Brush.

Add layer masks to the gradient copies

When you're done, hit the Stop button on the Actions panel to use this action for future projects.

Here's the final effect.

Exposure Action Photoshop Tutorial by Melody Nieves

Want to see this in action? Check out the quick video above to see this lesson at work!

A Bit More Detail

Learn how to create more photo effects from our experts! Check out the following tutorials below:

60 Seconds?!

This is part of a series of quick video tutorials on Envato Tuts+ in which we introduce a range of subjects, all in 60 seconds—just enough to whet your appetite. Let us know in the comments what you thought of this video and what else you'd like to see explained in 60 seconds!

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