The After and Before forum is organised by Stacy Fischer, it is a place where amateurs as well as seasoned photographers explain the wow and how about their photo and editing decision.You can read more here about how to take part.
Normally for the “After and Before Forum” each member brings forward one image and share how they got the wow in the photo. Once a month a member submits a picture for everyone else to edit that we call One Photo. Today is Manal’s One Photo After and Before Forum Post.
When I opened up Manal’s image I knew it was going to be a bit of a challenge, an urban scene with a cloudy sky. There are a lot of interesting shapes and silhouettes that could be played with. For a few days I didn’t know what I was going to do. Then I had a brain wave, why not shift it from a day time shot to a night time shot.
If you google, Day to Night Photoshop, there are many tutorials all that work for that image and all have a slightly different approach. I feel there is not right or wrong way as it is just a process, but you do have to think about light and how light is different at night to in the day, this is what will make the transformation complete. Manal’s image with its defuse lighting has the potential for a night time conversion.
I first took the file into Adobe Camera Raw to first straighten the picture using horizontal and vertical corrections in the lens correction panel. In the basic panel I tried to get as much detail as I could from the Highlights and Shadows, added a bit of clarity and vibrance. All these steps were taken to give me a base image to build from.
Within Photoshop I worked solely with adjustment layers and masks to create my night time effect. The first adjustment layer was Hue and Saturation; I reduced the saturation by 50% to have the strongest colours showing though.
I needed to add a bluish tone that you sometimes feel at night and see in night time images. I added a Photo Filter adjustment layer and chose the blue colour and increased the strength to 100%. I did select the colour picker and chose a darker blue within the filter and reduced the opacity to taste.
The opacity and blue tone is normally different for each image.
The sky is still bright and needs to be turned into a darker night sky. Selecting the original layer I used colour range in the select menu to select only the highlights. With the selection active I added a gradient map adjustment, because the selection was active this atomically created a mask of the selection. I used a basic black to white gradient for this adjustment. Using the brush tool I tidied up the mask as the selection selected some areas that were not highlights in the sky.
I wanted to start turning some lights on. I did this with a curves adjustment; generally increasing the brightness by dragging the curve up. Selecting each colour channel I slight increased red and green channels, by pulling the curve up and adding more of these colours. I also decreased the blue curve, pulling the curve down and adding yellow. This created a warmish yellow tone. I inverted the layer mask to hide the adjustment. Using the brush tool painting white onto the mask in windows turned the lights on.
Now with the lights on I wanted to turn on the street lights. This needs to be different than adding a glow, it needs to be a spectacle highlight.
I used the elliptical selection tool with 0 feathering on a new layer and filled with black. With the selection active I used Filter- Render-Lens Flare; I selected 105mm flare as it is white and bright.
With the lens flare layer active I set the blending mode to screen. There was some glowing I didn’t like; I added a levels adjustment layer and set the Lens flare layer as a clipping mask. With levels I brightened the shadows and midtones and this removed the glowing.
I duplicated my street light layer with its levels and merged them down. I then duplicated the newly merged layer and added the light to other street lights in the scene. Some had to be resized using image transform.
For a night image it is not common to see traffic stationary, it is more common to see light trails. I went looking for stock images of light trails and chose three; two for the road coming towards the foreground and one for the road in the middle of the image. With these images I darkened the shadows to turn them black, preserved the highlights and then imported them into the image. I placed the new layers with the help of image transform. Once in place I changed the blending to screen and added a layer mask to mask out areas that the light would not go over, for example lampposts and trees in front of the traffic.
I noticed that I could still see the day time scene reflected in the shop windows on the right. I duplicated and merge down the light trails. I flipped the new layer and clipped it to the window curve layer I created earlier. I reduced the opacity slightly and added a layer mask to mask out the light from any areas I don’t want them.
Now I had the lights I wanted to add a glow. I created a new layer and set the blending to screen. I used a large low opacity brush and painted white onto areas where you would expect to see a glow.
I added a curve adjustment layer and applied a low key s curve; to lower the shadows raise the high lights and protect the midtones. I was trying to simulate the contrast of night.
The colours were unnatural for a night scene, I decided I needed to do some colour grading.
Colour grading is the process of altering and enhancing the colour of a motion picture, video image, or still images either electronically, photo-chemically or digitally. The photo-chemical process is also referred to ascolor timing and is typically performed at a photographic laboratory. Source Wikipedia
I used a curve adjustment layer and went straight to the channels; I reduced the blues in the shadows to remove the tone from the sky as well as adding a yellowish warm to tone to the shadows as well. I also added yellow and red to the highlights to have some more warmth to the highlights.
I needed to add some finishing touches to the lighting of the image and bring the whole image together. I filled a layer with black and set the blending to multiply and reduced the opacity to 30%, which darkened the image. I added a layer mask and removed areas where light should fall from the sources.
I also added a dodge and burn layer ( new layer filled with 50% grey and blending set to overlay) using white to brighten and black to darken; I brightened the flowers to have a bit of a residual glow and darkened a reflection in a window.
I really like the image it has a nice night feel about it, the colours that come through are strong and the light trails help reinforce the composition.
I did leave one Easter egg to show that this is a digital edit and not a real image.
Because it is a big change here is a slide show of the image progression through the editing.
Let me know what you think of the image and editing in the comment box below.
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