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Photographic Time Shifting

I recently was watching a nature show on television and marveled at some of the nighttime images of jaguars. I thought, “Man, I wish I had some nighttime shots of those big cats.”

Then I thought, “What the heck.” With Photoshop, I easily can make a daytime shot look like a nighttime one. The opening image for this column is my transformed image.


To create the effect, I used the Midnight filter in the Nik Color Efex Pro plug-in, which is available for Photoshop along with Photoshop Elements, Apple Aperture and Photoshop Lightroom. Talk about a quick fix! It only took a few seconds to make the transformation.


When applying any plug-in to an image, play with the sliders in the plug-in’s control panel to fine-tune the effect. You’ll be surprised at the virtually unlimited options available at your fingertips.



Here’s my original jaguar photograph. I took the shot in the Belize Zoo in Belize, Central America.



We all like pictures taken in the early morning and later in the afternoon, during what pros call the “golden hours,” because scenes have deeper shades of red, orange and yellow, and also because shadows add a sense of depth to a scene.

This picture, which I took from the top of the World Trade Center many years ago, looks as though it was taken during the golden hours, but in fact, once again, I changed the apparent time of day in the digital darkroom.


I made my adjustments using Adobe Camera Raw, but you can get similar results using your preferred imaging software.

Basically, I warmed up the picture by changing the color temperature. Then, I decreased the exposure and increased the blacks.



Here’s my original New York City scene, which was taken with a film camera.

Have fun experimenting in the digital darkroom, but keep in mind that sometimes it’s not nice to play with Mother Nature—you have to know your limits. For example, there are plug-ins and filters that let you add rain and snow to pictures. However, if you apply these effects to a sunny day shot, it will look fake. Explore the light!

Rick Sammon has written more than a few books, along with many articles for Digital Photo. Visit

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