I lied. Actually there were no stars at all that night, at least none that I could see thanks to all the light pollution from the city below. While that light pollution is what causes the glow that makes night shots of cities look so entrancing, it also drowns out the wonders of the night sky. Enter Adobe Photoshop. Painting stars into the night sky isn't terribly difficult, but I always thought of it as cheating. I still do, but that doesn't stop me from trying be a little artistic from time to time.
This is a three shot panorama of Kitanakagusuku, taken from a south facing balcony of the Costa Vista Hotel. It was a 30 second exposure on ISO 100. I merged the shots into panorama first, then processed by taking down the slightly overexposed highlights, bringing up the shadows (and boosting the black level slightly to squeeze as much detail out of the shadows), then used contrast and white balance sliders in a graduated filter on the sky to bring out the transition from from black above t0 yellow/orange near the horizon. The sky was nowhere near as blue to the eye as my white balance setting made it appear, but that is the beauty of shooting raw. You can adjust the white balance in post processing to suit the scene your tastes.
It's a decent panorama on it's own, since I already cheated by teasing the blue out of sky, I might as well go a bit further and add some stars. This was accomplished using a brush tool in Photoshop, set to a small diameter and using the "scatter" setting. The details would be a whole post in itself, but you can get the gist of it here on the Youtube channel of Phlearn, an absolutely phenomenal resource for Photoshop users.
Thanks for reading.
My simple blog about the art and science of photography.