Almost Bedtime a conceptual photo composite illustration by Michael Maersch

Almost Bedtime


If you Google "day for night" lighting technique you will land a number of web pages and an intriguing series of visual example via the ‘Images’ posted there.

I have been working inside Lightroom to help myself in crafting a series of Presets that put me ‘in the ballpark’ as a starting point, invariably having to tweak my settings for each and every image I begin experimentation with once again creating a “night time” look on work shot in daylight. It’s just the nature of the process within the application – and something I have found over time using Presets as creative shortcuts on all unrelated projects.

Presets are simply the beginning when editing an image. As with sophisticated plugins many of us use to enhance our images, make them more stylistic in a world where “straight photography” is fast becoming ‘a thing of the past’, image editors need to find the discipline (and patience) to look at an effect then tweak that enhancement so that it doesn’t overpower the gist of our images – concept and composition.

My experimentation with D-F-N began with and continues to evolve by my spending time outdoors during the full moon. It is especially helpful to be in an environment where there are next to no city lights interfering with one’s observations. Best to be under a tree, “in the shade”; then just sit. Let your eyes adjust to (hopefully) near total darkness.

What I have found is:

1) yes, the light of the moon and night sky is certainly “blue” – yet not so In-Your-Face-“blue” as some filmmakers would make “night time” look. And…

2) You CAN see colors in this light BUT the “moon light” and night-time sky-light seems to sap the intensity out of colors by its illumination.

3) As well, the light is soft – REALLY soft – save for when you are outdoors during a “super moon” or if you are TOTALLY cut off of any sort of light from “civilization”, like being out at someone’s farm or out somewhere in “wilderness”. It’s gotta be DARK; then the light solely from the moon (when you eyes have adjusted to your surrounding environment) provides a perceptible level of contrast and shadow.

So there you go.

Almost Bedtime’ is my most “successful” experiment with D-F-N to date.

Please NOTE: I have found the best way to view the illustration is with your browser as the only window open on your ‘desktop’ at the time, the black ‘background’ of its host page preventing any backlit-screen distractions from interfering with the carefully crafted “night time” simulation I built – even better with the ambient room light low... (No kidding. Try looking at the image with an open text document sharing your screen, with the web browser trimmed-down; then switch back to your web browser stretching top-to-bottom, left to right.)