Adding Fireworks & Nighttime Effects

“Laughter is the fireworks of the soul.”—Josh Billings

Nighttime doesn’t mean just dark. Out here in real world night, there’s a softness in the light and color is harder to perceive; in short, it’s the perfect pseudo-monochrome time of day. Add a few fireworks and there’s the touch of color and black and white that the perfect combination and fits with the theme of today’s tutorial:

Step 1: This original color image of Lady Liberty was captured on color slide film and obviously during the day. © Barry Staver

Step 2: Before applying any effects to Lady Liberty I wanted to move her off the daytime background and onto a separate layer. To do this I used the Magic Wand tool to select the blue background, then used the Inverse (Select > Inverse) to select only the stature. To place it on another layer I used the Layer Via Copy (Layer > New > Layer Via Copy) to place only the Statue of Liberty on a separate layer. Since I would not be working on this layer again, I turned off the background layer by clicking on its eyeball icon in the Layer’s palette. © Barry Staver

Step 3: The Midnight filters that are part of Color Efex Pro create the illusion of a photograph taken at night with a dark moody feeling. The Midnight filters, include Blue, Green, Sepia, Violet, as well as just plain Midnight, and also soften details throughout the image. Sliders and Controls include a Blur slider that controls the soft-focus effect applied to the photograph. Brightness controls the overall lightness while Color adjusts the saturation of the original colors of the image as well as the amount of the color cast. Then there’s Contrast that controls the overall contrast range of the image. © Barry Staver

Step 4: Next we add the nighttime sky and fireworks that were not only photographed on 35mm film but in Colorado—not New York City! © Bill Craig

Step 5: I dragged the fireworks layer on top the Statue of Liberty thus creating a new layer. One image is a horizontal; the other is vertical! Holding down the Shift key (to maintain the same aspect ratio) I dragged the fireworks layer until it filled up the sky behind Lady Liberty. © Bill Craig

Step 6: Since the sky now covers the statue I needed to move its layer below, which is just a matter of clicking on the layer and dragging it below Liberty’s layer.

At that point it’s a matter of saving the image either as a .PSD to preserve the layers or after flattening (Layers > Flatten) and saving as a TIFF file. You can always save it as a TIFF file with layers but that just makes a BIG file even bigger. © Barry Staver & Bill Craig

light.bookBarry Staver and Joe Farace are co-authors of Better Available Light Digital Photography that’s currently out-of-print but while new copies are available at collector (high) prices but you can purchase used softback copies for less than six bucks from Amazon.

Author: Joe Farace

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