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One of the most useful adjustments inside of iPhoto are separate sliders for Shadows and Highlights. The Shadows are going to be the darkest part of the image; typically the darkest 30%, and the Highlights are going to be the brightest. Being able to control these independently goes a long way to fixing an image. With the photo open here, I'm going to go into Edit mode, and without touching the Exposure, watch what happens as I lift the Shadows. The darker areas become brighter, and you can see that as they migrate on the istogram.
Similarly, the Highlights are overexposed; they're slammed to the right here, so as we drag that, notice how they move back to the left, and some of those areas that were blown out, like the street, get repaired. Now, it's very common when you do this to also need to adjust the overall Exposure, and then refine it using Shadows and Highlights. This is one of those cases where there was a lot of roughness to the image itself. It was a very bright day with no cloud cover, so you're going to have to find that balance there as you properly expose the image, and work with your Shadows and Highlights. Before; after.
Quite a bit of information has been recovered. Now, I have a dramatic example to show you, and in fact, it's the same image shot two different ways. In this first example, I properly exposed for the shadowy areas; however, the highlights are definitely clipping. If I pull those down, I'm able to rescue some of that. In this case, I've underexposed a bit, and then follow back, and lift the Shadows.
Remember, as you adjust Exposure, you'll almost always need to follow back up with some Saturation. In this case here, a little bit of Definition, and a little bit of Contrast. The alternate to this was to underexpose. So, for safety, when I shot this image, I shot what's called bracketing, where it did an exposure that was higher, and lower. In this case, the details in the midtones were really preserved. Let's go ahead and lift the Shadows, and I'll recover the Highlights a bit, and open up the image.
So, quite a bit is there, but again, there is always a need to follow up with some Saturation. This is a tough area here, and one where you might consider exploring high dynamic range photography. While you can't really do HDR inside of iPhoto, if you want to do this high contrast photography, this is an excellent opportunity to explore HDR, and you will find some training available here on Lynda.com.
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