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When shooting outdoors, particularly if shooting JPEG, it's generally a safer idea to slightly underexpose. In other words, the image comes out a bit dark in the camera itself. This is good, though, because it protects the highlights, and prevents the image from blowing out, or clipping. As you see here, I'm just slightly underexposed. Notice that the bulk of the image here is pushed to the left for the histogram. Now, I'm going to press C to crop first, and just crop this to a shape that's desired.
We'll switch that to landscape. Putting our subject right at the middle of the intersection there; tighten up just a little. Here we go, and that feels pretty good. Sometimes I'll crop first, so I'm really making adjustments based on just the area I'm going to use. And the histogram looks a little bit different, in this case, because less of the dark areas are included. Now, dragging the middle slider opens up those midtones. Pulling the black slider in restores some of the contrast, and if we pull the white slider over, you'll see that the bright areas bloom.
What you want to do is be careful not to go too far, but the Levels adjustment goes a long way here to fix that. If you're not getting what you want, consider making a more localized adjustment; for example, with the Shadows slider to open that up. We'll talk more about shadows and highlights in an upcoming lesson. Here is another photo. Look at the histogram, and pulling these in, you see how we could really brighten up those middle tones. I'm just going to put a little more contrast into the blacks, and that looks pretty good.
One more photo. This is a tough one. Fortunately, it's RAW. One of the quickest things I'll do is just use the Enhance button to sort of analyze the image, and then jump back over. Let's bring the midtones up there, and make the whites a bit brighter. Pull the black slider in to restore Contrast. And this is where the Exposure slider can really come into play. Now, as I adjust Exposure, and brighten up a dark image, it definitely loses a lot of its saturation.
In fact, that's the default state. Be sure to crank the Saturation back up to fill in some of that missing information. The brighter the photo, the more it's going to look washed out, and that's why you need to use the Saturation slider after a brightness adjustment.
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