If you're shooting under changing lighting conditions, it's very easy to overexpose your photo. Now, many of you shoot in automatic mode. However, I sometimes find those frustrating, and try to shoot manual to better control my exposure. Of course, the chance of getting things wrong is a bit higher. This image is overexposed. I could both tell by the clipping areas here in the left, and the fact that the details on the histogram are slammed to the right. Moving the middle exposure slider here will adjust that balance quite a bit.
Additionally, since this is a RAW photo, the Exposure slider goes a long way to recovering some of those tones. Pulling that to the left will pull down the overall exposure level, and you notice how the histogram goes from slammed to the right to a little more balanced. Once I've done that, I'll drag the black slider in to get proper contrast, and play with that middle slider a bit more. That's looking pretty good. I'll just lift those shadows, and again, play with the Saturation controls.
In this case, because I have a lot of red, I'm taking advantage of the Avoid saturating skin tones. Without, it looks like they have a bad sunburn, so make sure you consider that option, particularly if working with people, or bright red areas, so that they don't start to look unnatural. Let's apply those techniques here to a couple more photos. Using Quick Fixes, I'll click Enhance, and then come on over the Adjustments. This actually opened up the exposure, so this is one of those cases where you might want to override what iPhoto guesses.
I'm instead going to pull down, so the background doesn't blow out. I'm okay with her face being a bit in shadows, because she's underneath a hat brim, and she should be. Remember, those middle sliders go a long way to finding the right balance in your image. Here's one more example that is overexposed, and I'm just going to pull that in. Notice all the details slammed to the right. A simple drag to the left, in this case, particularly since there aren't skintones, properly centered the data in the middle of the histogram.
I can now pull the sliders in to get proper blacks, and proper white contrast, and that looks a lot better. If you're having a color cast that you want to get around, you can always take the eyedropper, and click on something that should be white to get your white balance back. But notice the before, and the after. A dramatic exposure adjustment went a long way, and then simply adjusting the levels to restore contrast did the job.
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