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Photography and Photoshop Tutorials
Day for Night Photography
Reality is not always exactly that...

When I was young... I watched western movies. One of the things they would do was shooting Ektachrome several stops underexposed with a blue cooling filter in the late afternoon to create a “night” look. This sat in my head for 30 years as something I had at the time thought cool. One day I was looking at a wonderfully composed shot of the mountains with a clear blue sky. Great photo, wretched sky and I got to thinking…

I have attached the layered Photoshop file (lo res) so that you can see what I did layerwise. What follows is the process…





1) Image Capture – 4 frames shot with Really Right Stuff RRS spherical pano head and 17mm lens. Late afternoon sun exp 1/13s f22 ISO 100. Focus was adjusted on each frame to create progressive focus for infinite depth of field.

2) Stitch frames together in CS4. I use the interactive mode patch on stitcher.

3) Correct shape with Edit >Transform>Perspective, the shape rendition of the 17mm is terrible.

4) Some features bothered me so I removed them on a retouch layer. A tree and a log that were not in keeping with my vision of the scene. I also added to the waterfall.

5) Build filter pack that makes the foreground dark and blue. I also burn in the far peaks and some rocks in the waterfall to get a more night time look.

6) Cut a mask for the sky. This took some doing because of the trees so I stomped on the trees at the left in the mask and cut the tree on the right with a fine eraser to allow stars to peek through the branches.

7) Add star field image. I captured this star field at Mono Lake. Exposure was around 30s f4 ISO 1600, I now have a f1.8 lens for capturing star fields and have been able to get my exposure down to 5-15 sec. The short exposure renders the stars as points rather then arcs. Now I am beginning to have a nice library of stars…

8) Edge the mask boundary on the Final Retouch layer (on top of stack). I go back and forth between editing the mask and edging with a brush or clone brush.

9) Draw a shooting star by making two yellow lines. Make then straight up and down vertical. One fat and short and one thin and long. Rasterize and make into smart objects. Group them and use Edit>Transform>Perspective to make one end become a point, this is the tail. Blur the front of the head some and reduce its opacity. I added Gaussien Blur to both lines to make them meld with the sky. Perspective correct the back of the head so it merges with the tail. I am using graduated level layers clipped to the rasterized lines to make the comet get brighter at the head. I then moved and rotated it to place it where I wanted it…

This is digital day-for-night. A new twist on an old concept and best of all it gives us a use for those pictures that we all have of great scenes with boring skies…

Have Fun,


All content is © 2012, feel free to share with attribution.

Here is a link to a ZIP file containing the layered Photoshop file and this article as a PDF and DOC file.

Click Here to Download the File -


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Web Site by Cooksey-Talbott Studio

Fine art photography of California by master nature photographer Cooksey-Talbott. Hundreds of beautiful photographs are displayed for sale online as raw or ready to hang images.

Cooksey-Talbott Gallery is an online gallery of nature photographs. The collection includes pictures of the High Sierra, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Yosemite, Trinity Alps, Sonora Pass, Santa Barbara Hills, East Bay Hills and Garin Park as well as hundreds of different waterfalls. Legacy images are from medium and large format film taken with the Mamiya RB-67 and a variety of 4x5 view cameras. Some of the more recent work is shot with a Nikon D200, Canon 5D Mark II and the Sony A7r.

We offer archival quality prints in a wide range of sizes and media. We print on a heavy art papers and canvas using a Canon iPF8300 44 inch 12 color printer with pigmented inks. Our images are first party prints made directly by the artist. Prints are signed and numbered and include a Certificate of Authenticity.

Ralph Cooksey-Talbott Thomas has been working as a photographer since 1972 when he moved to California from Michigan. During the 1970’s he studied under Ansel Adams in Yosemite. Ansel published one of his photographs in the portfolio section of his book "Polaroid Land Photography" Ansel and Orah Moore, another of Ansel’s students, suggested that he shorten his name to Cooksey-Talbott, and that is the name he has worked under since. Cooksey also studied at the San Francisco Art Institute and the San Francisco Academy of Art. He has lectured in photography at the U.C. Berkeley Extension, Studio One in Oakland and Santa Barbara City College. Cooksey is currently working as a photographer and facilitating which is a monthly photo walk that meets up in Niles California.