Photography Tutorials

How to Rescue an Underexposed Image


Bring an underexposed image back from the brink.

Sometimes mistakes happen. They happen to the best of us. Imagine the scenario where you see an amazing photo opportunity, line up an incredible composition and pull the trigger knowing your shot is going to be great. You look down and are horrified to find the exposure is way off. This could be due to your auto/semi-auto exposure being thrown off or a mistake when shooting in manual. Sound familiar?

With the dawn of digital photography and RAW images we now have the ability to easily and effectively adjust exposure. If a shot is overexposed and the image is ‘blown out’ there is often nothing we can do to recover it. However if an image is underexposed you might be able to rescue it, even if you have missed by around 2 stops.

A question worth considering though is should we be rescuing images?

Many would argue you should capture everything correctly in-camera. Anything else makes you an unskilled heathen, unwelcome in photography high society for evermore. There is such as strange attitude towards post-processing at the moment where everyone is terrified an image may be misrepresenting a situation. Why is photography under such scrutiny when people believe a misleading headline or a five second video on Facebook without a second thought? We so often feel the need to justify our work with comments like ‘no major processing, just small contrast and saturation boost'.  How is this different? Who draws the line where an image goes from being enhanced to manipulated?

This argument is really a misunderstanding of what digital cameras do, whether they are a hardcore DSLR or an iPhone. If the camera is capturing JPEGs, then it is post-processing the image before you ever see it. They add contrast, saturation and sharpness on every single occasion so claiming you 'get it right in-camera' is not be the badge of honour people think it is. An unprocessed image looks like a RAW file image. Flat, with low contrast and very little sharpness.

RAW files capture a large amount of image data that allows a number of changes to be made and this includes a decent exposure range. In the video I show you how to rescue an underexposed image using Adobe Lightroom.

Whilst it is unlikely rescued images will end up displayed on a wall or in your portfolio, they still have a place. It could be an important moment in time captured or simply, an image to share online. Services like Facebook and Instagram compress images heavily and use low resolutions so detail of images often cannot be seen. Sharing your rescued images on these services is a very reasonable way to put extra content out into the world and continue to grow you audience.

So should you rescue your underexposed images? In answer - yes. It is not hurting anyone and it will be your audience who decide whether it is good or not. Personally, I give very little thought and time to those who are critical of my creative process. You are free to not enjoy my methods and my work as I am free to ignore you.

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What is the Difference Between Photoshop and Lightroom?


One of the questions I have been asked the most is what is the difference between Photoshop and Lightroom?

Get a free trial of Photoshop and Lightroom by clicking the link below.

This is a very understandable question considering both programs now do many of the same things. These powerhouses of photography are now the stablemate of pretty much every photographer. If you are just getting started on your photography journey, understanding the difference between Photoshop and Lightroom will really help you progress and use the strengths of each application at the appropriate time.

For the rest of this post and video I will be assuming you are shooting RAW.  You should be in almost all circumstances.

Photoshop is your all out image editing application. It is a beast. It has multiple tools that allow you to edit and manipulate photographs providing a powerful suite of post processing features. It also allows you to create striking graphics, text effects and artworks from scratch that are used to create so much content everyday both inside and outside the world of photography. Lightroom lacks many of these features.

Lightroom on the other hand is purely designed for photographers. The program is designed to organise, edit and enhance your photographs and makes this extremely easy. Unlike Photoshop, it provides a workflow for your post processing from start to finish and includes a mobile app allowing you to work on the go.

Photoshop generally works by opening and editing a single image. Lightroom, on the other hand, lets you to flick through a catalogue of images allowing you to quickly edit and process a series of images. When working with RAW files both use the powerful features of Adobe Camera Raw. In Photoshop this appears as a standalone window where as it is deeply built into Lightroom.

Both applications work seamlessly together. If you start an edit in Lightroom you can move over to Photoshop to make more complex edits, for example, using layers. Save it and the image links back to Lightroom again for export and viewing. Lightroom has powerful export features allowing batch exports of multiple images saving photographers valuable time.

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So which is best for you? Nowadays that is a pointless question. With the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan you can have both for around £8.50/$9.99.  Just hit the link below and you'll get a 30 day free trial.