Correcting underexposed photos

Case I – The light source is in front of the camera, the light source is the Sun

  1. Open the image with Camera Raw from Photoshop. The original photo looks like this:


In this scenario I took a photo of this green parrot at the zoo. I choose to underexpose a little so that the sky still looks blue and not completely burned. At the moment it looked ok on the bright screen of the camera, when in fact on a normal screen looks underexposed. Next time I’ll choose to take one more overexposed so that the subject can be seen. Every time I make a mistake it’s a step forward to understand the complexity of a photo.

I am adjusting the Temperature and Tint because the image looks too blue for a sunny summer day, but this settings depends from camera to camera. You have to test it out and readjust for your camera. That’s why I don’t say what camera I use, because I can adjust it how I want depending on the camera it was shot with.

After this I have to compensate the exposure, back down the highlights, and add more light into the shadows, but after this I still need some light, and backing down the contrast and blacks helps a bit. Now the image needs some contrast, so raising the whites, clarity and vibrance makes it look better.


2. It’s not enough just yet. I use the Tone Curve.

Highlights and shadows can go down more and the darks get more light from post-processing.


4. Dehaze:


5. Adding more light and vibrance to the feathers using the adjustment brush.

That adjustment brush is selected here (the third tool), found at the top:


Check Add to add more to the selected brush or check Erase to correct the margins or what it is needed. Check New to start painting with a new brush. Always verify the settings.


Add some color to the shadows by clicking the color box at the bottom of the Adjustment Brush Settings. The Color Picker will pop up:


Here I used two adjustment brushes to give it a natural vibrancy.


Verify the image if it still looks natural. Also see the progress and how you like it. Be careful not to use the brush over the sky or don’t paint outside your subject. Zoom in.


This is the final result:



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