Turn day into night in Photoshop

Ben Secret shows you how to use Curves layers to control your tones and turn day into night.

Turning this daytime scene into night was inspired by the superb effects work in Lars von Trier's film Melancholia. Shooting landscapes at night can present all sorts of challenges – and even more so if you were shooting a moving image and couldn't use long exposures.

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For this reason, it can be preferable to get the shot you're after in the day and then simulate the exposure and colour shifts of shooting at night. Here we're using two Curves layers to add a colour balancing component to our lighting effects, taking us from the warm hues of sunlight to a cool, moonlit feel.

Here's a video to show you how it's done whether you're using an older Photoshop or the very latest Creative Cloud version, but after that we'll take you through the process step-by-step.

Now here's how to do it, step-by-step…

01. Add Curves layer

First up, with our image loaded, add a Curves adjustment layer. Go to the Red, Green and Blue Curves channels individually and bring the top-right points about 60% of the way down.

We can adjust the relative levels of these points to create a cooler, eerier light. It will typically involve raising the Green channel's point and lowering the Red's. Every image you start with requires a slightly different balance of colours.

02. Balance the mid-tones

We can now balance the colours in our mid-tones. Going through each Curves colour channel again, I'm generally taking the mid-tones down and aiming to create a slightly warmer light in the mid-tones.

So if your grass is now appearing too blue, but your sky looks okay, you can go to your Blue Curves channel and bring the mid-point down until things look right. This is a great way to get to grips with colour curves.

Next page: the final three steps