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Fixing an underexposed photo

From: Enhancing Photos with iPhoto

Video: Fixing an underexposed photo

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.

Fixing an underexposed photo

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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This video is part of

Image for Enhancing Photos with iPhoto
Enhancing Photos with iPhoto

46 video lessons · 3743 viewers

Richard Harrington
Author

 
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  1. 1m 54s
    1. Welcome
      29s
    2. What you should know before watching this course
      31s
    3. Using the exercise files
      54s
  2. 10m 19s
    1. Working in Full-Screen mode
      1m 26s
    2. Entering Edit mode
      56s
    3. Switching images
      1m 28s
    4. Checking the info on an image
      2m 14s
    5. Zooming in for detail
      2m 14s
    6. Using the navigation window
      53s
    7. Seeing the before and after state
      1m 8s
  3. 12m 6s
    1. Straightening crooked photos
      2m 22s
    2. Rotating an image
      1m 16s
    3. Removing red-eye
      2m 14s
    4. Cropping for better composition
      1m 39s
    5. Cropping a photo to a specific size
      2m 35s
    6. Cropping multiple sizes
      2m 0s
  4. 16m 13s
    1. Understanding the histogram
      3m 13s
    2. Making a Levels adjustment
      2m 15s
    3. Fixing an underexposed photo
      2m 36s
    4. Fixing an overexposed photo
      2m 42s
    5. Improving contrast
      2m 36s
    6. Adjusting shadows and highlights
      2m 51s
  5. 12m 41s
    1. Improve a washed-out photo with saturation
      1m 30s
    2. Increasing saturation while protecting skin tones
      1m 58s
    3. Boosting an image to quickly fix saturation
      1m 51s
    4. White balancing a photo
      2m 24s
    5. Removing a color cast manually
      2m 35s
    6. Stylizing an image with effects
      2m 23s
  6. 14m 28s
    1. Converting to black and white
      2m 21s
    2. Refining a black-and-white effect with temperature
      2m 21s
    3. Creating high-impact black-and-white photos
      3m 5s
    4. Creating sepia-tone effects
      2m 29s
    5. Double-processing for duotone effects
      4m 12s
  7. 13m 45s
    1. Using the Retouch brush
      1m 55s
    2. Removing noise
      2m 10s
    3. Sharpening a soft photo
      1m 52s
    4. Adding punch with definition
      2m 5s
    5. Defocusing a photo
      2m 15s
    6. Controlling the focal point with vignette effects
      1m 26s
    7. Adding borders with iBorderFX
      2m 2s
  8. 8m 27s
    1. Duplicating an image
      47s
    2. Reverting to an original
      1m 49s
    3. Deleting an image
      3m 4s
    4. Copying and pasting adjustments
      44s
    5. Preserving maximum quality when exporting
      2m 3s
  9. 22s
    1. Goodbye
      22s

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