Here is a shot of a street photographed in San Miguel. This before photo was shot at about noontime. As you see, the shot is flat, with out any shadow, contrast and is not very dramatic or interesting. Notice that the street is angled, and the buildings have color. There are many doors and windows and flags that add activity. Also, notice the street lights on the wall. All these elements add to the possibility of an interesting day-to-night finished photo.
I love creating a mood in my photos. Isn't that what photography is about: mood, atmosphere, theme, story? I like to shoot architecture and landscape. One method to create a mood is to have the visual story take place in the evening or early morning. These are times when the light is dramatic.
However, shooting at night or early morning is not always easy. Traffic, people, safety, camera problems aren't always conducive to capturing that perfect mood. Then, the light itself might make it difficult to see shadow and detail in the subject. An option is to shoot the photo during the day when the scene is flatter, with less-dimension, and then in the digital darkroom use Photoshop and Lightroom to create the image as the vision you imagined.
To create the new image I start with lowering the exposure. I make the photo a little darker, not black, but equivalent to an early evening night scene. Then with the Exposure Brush found in the palette of tools in Photoshop and Lightroom I begin to paint with light..
I literally add brush strokes of white light in varying opacity to the photo. Walls and streets get brushed to simulate shadow and traffic activity. I'll use the Shadow Slider tool another Photoshop tool to bring up the hidden mid-tones in corners, doorways and windows, often revealing activity behind the window. Windows and doorways also receive a brush of red, yellow or green color to show activity. Streetlights are lit with the Brush tool using the color white with a little added yellow. Lighting the lights on a wall or above a door is my favorite part of bringing the photo to life. Other tools that can be used include the Clone Stamp, Dodge and Burn tool and many others. Still, it is also possible to create a night image with very view tools.
To view the process I used to convert a day photo into a night scene watch this short video:
Barry Weiss is a photographer, teacher, and photography printer living in San Miguel. He teaches photography worldwide via Skype as well as in San Miguel. He specializes in portrait, home and event photography. His work can be found on www.barryweissphoto.com. For more information and available photography services contact Barry at BarryWeissPhoto@gmail.com.