Creating a nighttime scene is more advanced than most projects on my site.



While it takes several steps and some different techniques, it is not difficult. It just takes more time than a few instantaneous clicks of the mouse.





Through experience I have found that marine photos work best for creating a nighttime scene. They are the easiest. The real key is having a subject that takes up much of your picture and is very bright.





A smaller or darker subject just turns black in the process unless you cut it out and make it a layer in itself. You can do that and then edit the subject layer independently.







That’s how I accomplished this picture of Michael Jackson’s Thrill the World dancing Zombies of Santa Barbara, Ca.

Each picture you’ll see in this tutorial was taken during bright daylight hours; except the moon. That is how to get sharp photos to create a nighttime scene.

The first thing I do is create a folder to contain the work from this project. With a dedicated folder all the nighttime scene components will be readily available. I place a copy of the original picture in that folder and begin.

If you always use a copy, not the original, you will always retain one original of each of your photos. I presume you have all your originals backed up as well. If not, please do so. It will save you heartache when your computer crashes; or you inadvertently delete or copy over an original.

This is a lesson I learned the hard way. I lost a number of very sentimental photos. This happened shortly after I began taking zillions of pictures and before I figured out a good method of organization. I went through a number of methods before I found one that worked.

During a hard drive purge, I thought I was deleting extra folders of them and I deleted the originals. It totaled about 500 pictures. Ouch!! With my current backup method this is no longer problematic.

Please back up all of your originals on a separate hard drive and do nothing but copy/paste from that hard drive. That way you always have all of your originals.

From the folder you just created, containing that copy, not the original, load your picture into Photoshop. You load it from that specific folder because Photoshop’s default is to save pictures in the folder they originated.

If you don’t know how to load the picture you’re on the wrong page; you’ll have to begin here. If you are unfamiliar with layers and PSDs in Photoshop, read this page first and then return here to Nighttime Scene.

The Main Editor Window is the name of the main working window in Photoshop.

The Photo Bin contains a thumbnail of each picture you loaded into Photoshop. The Layers Bin displays all the layers for whichever photo is in the Main Editor Window.

When you click on a photo in the Photo Bin, it becomes encased in a blue box, displays in the Main Editor Window and all of its layers will display in the Layers Bin. All three are interrelated.

Don’t concern yourself with any more about the Layers Bin right now. You will be quite familiar with it by the end of this lesson.

The entire right column, containing both the “Arts and Effects Bin” and the “Layers Bin” is called the Palette Bin.

Refer back to this picture if you are not sure of something when I am directing you to these areas. You can download the picture using right click, save image. That way you can just open it on your computer rather than having to return here.

Take note that the picture I’m using to create a nighttime scene is a simple snapshot. You don’t have to have a spectacular exposure in order to achieve spectacular results.

In order to create a nighttime scene you’ll also have to have a picture of clouds and of the moon. If you don’t have those, email me and I’ll send you pictures you can use. In fact, if you like, I will also send you the tall ship picture I’m using in this tutorial.

Just contact me and ask. I'll be happy to send them to you.

Click on any blue lettering if you don’t know what it is or how to do it.

You may have a picture with a crooked horizon. Click on the “Straighten Tool” in the left side too bar.

Move your cursor to the horizon on one side of the picture. Click and hold your mouse button. Drag the cursor to the other side. Return it to the height of the horizon and release your mouse button. The horizon will level. To use a vertical edge for straightening a photo, hold the “Control” key on your keyboard as you use the straighten tool.

Crop and save your original the way you like it. Be sure to slightly change the name of the cropped copy, otherwise it will replace the original.

“Drag and drop” is a general computer term. That is when you click and hold your mouse button while the cursor hovers over an object you want moved; move the mouse to a new location and then release. Whatever you clicked on will move to the new location.

Drag and drop the cropped background layer as shown below; rename it and turn off the locked background layer. Go here if you don’t know how.

In "Quick Fix", edit the picture to your liking. In this step you’ll do the normal Quick Fixes. Save it; now you have one normal copy of the finished picture.

"Nighttime Scene" is 7 pages.

Continue here.