Several people were interested in the process I took in manipulating the image from day to night. Below I have tried to recall the steps that I took, however, this manipulation was done on a whim and I had no intention of recalling any of it while I was working on it. Honestly, this was a 20 minute release for me. Something fast and creative to keep me from burning out on the project I was working on. I’m sure I’ll try and perfect the process at some point in time, but for now it’s just a doodle of the Photoshop kind.
Here is the original daytime photo:
Step 1: I opened the image I wanted to manipulate, then duplicated the background layer and adjust the levels. I was looking to do two things, reduce the overall exposure and contrast. To achieve the night look on a daylight photo, I slid the midtone handle of the Input to the right, and the midtone handle of the Output to the left. I had to tweak my adjustment for the specific image.
Step 2: This step required me to paint out the clouds and darken the sky. The best way to do this was to select local color samples. I did this on a new layer, and set my layer blend mode to “darken”. That helped me maintain the shadow details while painting out the highlights. I played around with this, and always took local sample colors with a relative alignment to the area I was painting out.
Step 3: This could have been done a couple of different ways, but for simplicity sake I just duplicated my original background layer and place it as the top-most layer. Then using a layer mask, I slowly painted in the highlights with a soft brush. I was sure to set my brush’s opacity very low so I could see the mask slowly take effect. All along, I tried to think about the light and how it would fall within the scene if it were actually night.
Step 4: Nothing to this much. On a new layer use a soft paintbrush, set to a light yellowish white… paint in the porch light and add a layer mask as needed to adjust where the light falls.
Step 5: Same idea here as with step 3. Using the same layer and mask, I slowly painted in the lighting effects for the second story lights. I tried to keep in mind the way the light would fall on the bushes and the surrounding areas.
Step 6: A little more of the same. On a new layer I painted in some additional lighting for the second story windows. I just wanted to intensify the light to make it more convincing. At this point, I also made an adjustment layer and began to mask in some brightness adjustments… some areas just were not right when comparing the way it was during the day and how it really should be at night.
Step 7: On a separate layer I added in the stars — a very simple process of using a hard brush with varied weights from 1 to 4 pixels in diameter combines with some good old fashion randomness. After the stars were set, I made a new layer and drew a short thin white line… to that I added a layer mask with gradient. This gave me the effect of a shooting star and I thought it added something so I left it.
Step 8: The moon… I did a quick Google search and found a crescent moon that fit the bill and dropped it in. I removed the background from the moon image and played with the levels till I liked the color.
Step 9: The last touches were on the moon. I had to give it a little glow and blur. The image I used was just too crisp. Also, on a new layer I added the dark side of the moon by matching the darkest part of the sky and giving it a slight blur. There were a few more adjustments to white balance and some color adjustment layers to play with the temp of the lighting, but very minor. All such adjustments would be relative to your image anyway.
Final night image: