You have an amazing photo in your portfolio, a once-in-a-lifetime shot you were lucky to capture. Your client loves it — except he wants you to take it again at night.
Or maybe you're back from an amazing vacation. You plan on posting your trip photos to Facebook (it's not a real vacation until you make your friends jealous), but you realize that some of the daytime shots lack the dramatic punch necessary to rack up a lot of likes.
You don't need a miracle. As long as you use Adobe Photoshop CC, you can easily turn day into night (see Figure 1). A recent innovation in the Color Range tool lets you preserve the highlights while selecting the midtones and shadows. You can darken them using an adjustment layer and add some blue to complete the nighttime effect.
Working with Photoshop's adjustment layers provides tremendous flexibility. Not only can you make a wide range of adjustments to the image without damaging the original, but you can also come back to an adjustment layer later and modify the effect. If you make a selection before creating an adjustment layer, then the adjustment will automatically be applied only to that selection, and it's easy to modify later with any of the painting tools.
To learn step-by-step how to transform a photo using Color Range and adjustment layers, watch Video 1. If you want to follow along, you can download the two original images (ZIP, 3 MB).
Video 1. Even if you already have a technique for a day-to-night effect, I think you'll be surprised with the results afforded by the improved Color Range selections.
If you want to add even more visual credibility to a photo, you can insert a person casting a realistic shadow. Video 2 gives you a quick and easy way to create a reverse lighting effect, complete with a ground shadow.
Video 2. Learn how to add a person, make it look like the grocer's lights are spilling around her, and give her a shadow.
To see this technique applied to another image, watch the Select Color Range video on the website How to cheat in Photoshop, which is a companion to my book of the same name. The website also features other how-to movies and downloadable book chapters.
For more information about how you can use the improved Color Range tool, check out Richard Curtis's blog post on Color Range and media contrast.
For general photography tutorial videos, explore the Learn Creative Cloud for Photography show on Adobe TV.
Steve Caplin is a graphic artist specializing in photomontage illustrations that have appeared in many newspapers, magazines, and advertisements. Steve plays the piano fairly well, the accordion reasonably well, and the guitar badly. You can see his portfolio at stevecaplin.com.