Correcting Underexposed Photos

Underexposed is the opposite of overexposed. In other words, the photo is too dark.

Like fixing overexposed photos, there are many ways to fix underexposed photos.

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In this photo, the picture is adorable and wonderfully framed, but it’s just a bit too dark, especially after an aged filter was added.

Shadow/Highlights Adjustment Layer

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Duplicate the photo layer
From the top menu, select Image -> Adjustments -> Shadows Highlights
Click “Show More Options”
In the Shadows section:
Amount – increases details in the shadows
Tonal Width – how much detail is going to go into the shadows
Radius – increase to make a more natural looking shadow
In the Adjustments section:
Color Correction – shadows are less saturated, so an increase in color to makes them more bright (to make them not look like shadows)
Midtone Contrast – adds contract to the midtown ranges
Hit OK when done

Curves and Screen

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Image -> Adjustments -> Curves
Put a point in the middle and move the point up (the photo should lighten)
Add an additional point below the first point to adjust the contrast
Click OK when done.
Duplicate the photo layer.
Adjust the mode to screen and reduce the opacity to about 30%
The photo is brighter.

Screen Adjustment (version 1)

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Duplicate the image
Change the Blending Mode to Screen

Screen Adjustment (version 2)

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Click the New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon in the Layers panel
Choose Levels
Click OK
Change the Blend Mode of the Levels layer to Screen
If the photo is still too dark, duplicate the Levels layer again. Lower the opacity if necessary.

Too dark photos can be saved with a bit of work, so have fun exploring these techniques!

Online Tutorials:

Bring Back Lost Details from Shadows (PHLEARN):

How to Fix a Dark Photo in Photoshop (trick351):

Brighten Underexposed Photos with the Screen Blend Mode in Photoshop (…reen-exposure/

Photo: Ken Gent from Unsplash

Correcting Overexposed Photos

We all take them – the photos that have a bit too much white around the subject. Whether it be a sky “blown out” due to taking a picture pointing at the sun or just an “overly bright” photo.

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In this photo, the sky is blown out. It’s a perfectly acceptable photo (especially after applying a black and white filter). But, I’d like the sky to be a bit darker – maybe showing some of those gorgeous clouds that aren’t visible.

So, how does one make “less bright” an overexposed photo?

There are multiple ways, but here are some suggestions:

Multiply & Mask

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Make a duplicate copy of your image.
Change the blending mode to Multiply
This makes the image darker.
Note: If areas of the photo are too dark, add a layer mask to the top layer and erase the too dark areas on the mask with a soft round brush at a reduced opacity.

Curves Adjustment Layers

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Make a new Curves Adjustment Layer. Make the photo over-exposed.
Ensure that the layer mask is selected.
Image -> Apply Image.
Ensure that “Invert” is checked.
Choose Levels
Change blending mode to multiply
Change opacity to about 40% (natural look)

Curves Adjustment Layer

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Create a Curves Adjustment Layer
Click Auto
Your photo is a bit darker

And a final way – Shadow/Highlight Adjustment

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Make a duplicate of your photo.
Go to Image -> Adjustments -> Shadow/Highlights
Turn the Shadows down to 0
Move the Highlights slider to about 18%
The image is now darker.

It may take some trial and error to find the perfect way to fix overexposed photos – and what works on one photo may not work on others in the same way – but hopefully this gives you some ideas on some first steps to fix these issues.

girl by ocean: Pixels

Fixing Colours in Old Photos

We all have them – photos that over time have become discolored. Here are some ways to fix the color of those photos and make them look better.

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Example 1: Original photo

The quickest way to remove the faded color is using the Auto Color command (Image->Auto Color). It usually works decently and if you think it’s okay, you’re set!

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Example 2: Auto Color selected; less of a green/yellow cast overall

If the photo isn’t quite right, there’s another way to correct the color – using Levels.

There are two ways to select levels:
To create changes on the photo layer: Image->Adjustments-Levels
To create changes on a new layer: Go to the Adjustments Panel (you may need to open it) and select Levels

Levels work using a histogram, which is a graph.
When you switch to the histogram, it is set to the RGB channel. Switch to the Red channel. There you may see blank areas at the beginning and end of the histogram. If there’s a blank area, move the slider to exclude the blank area of the graph. Switch to the Green and Blue channels and move the sliders as necessary. Returning back to the RGB channel, you’ll see there aren’t any blank areas in the graph. This should make your photo look more color corrected.

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Example 3: Levels modified; less yellow and red overall

If using Levels isn’t working, try adjusting the Color Balance instead.

From the main menu, select Layer -> New Adjustment Layer -> Color Balance, click OK.
Shadows – slide the slider until the shadow colors look good
Repeat for the Midtones and Highlights

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Example 4: Color Balance modified; more red and less yellow/green cast

Below are two video links that can provide help with these techniques:

Links: (Creative Live – The Easy Way to Fix Color in Old Photos in Photoshop by Matt Kloskowski)

Phlearn – How to Fix an Aged Photo in Photoshop (color correction starts around 13:22) (

Good luck color correcting your photos!

Photo: Les Anderson from Unsplash

Removing Reflections in Glasses

We’ve all taken photos were there is a reflection of a flash causing a spot on someone’s glasses. How can one fix those glaring areas of white? It’s not always easy, but depending upon the type of glare you have, there are a few different ways to fix the issue.

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Note: You’ll mainly be using the Clone Stamp and Patch Tools in Photoshop to remove the glare. If you need a refresher on these tools, check our blog post “Cleaning Backgrounds” from January here: https://pixelsandartdesign.wordpress…ng-brush-tool/.

If one eye is clear, but the other has a reflection/hot spot:
Duplicate the clear eye and paste it over the eye with the glare.

Make a new layer.
Select the Clone Stamp Tool.
Window-Clone Source – select “show overlay” giving you a preview of what you’ll be copying.
Window-Clone Source – select the “flip horizontal” button
When you paint, it’s now sampling from one side, flipping it, and painting it on the other side.
Repeat and clean up as necessary, including putting a layer mask on the new layer to hide part of what has been copied.
For smoothing, select a larger clone stamp with an opacity of 50% to blend the areas in with each other.
This tutorial from Phlearn ( demonstrates this very well.

If one eye is clear, but the other has a reflection/hot spot:

Duplicate the clear eye and paste it over the eye with the glare.

Select the Polygonal Lasso Tool, and copy the portion of the other eye you’d like to copy.
Make a copy of the selected area. Paste it over the eye with the glare.
Free transform – flip horizontal. It places the copied eye onto a new layer.
Move the opacity down and move the eye on top of the other eye. You may need to rotate it to get a good fit.
Turn the opacity up when it’s perfect.
Select the Eraser tool, reduce the opacity, and blend in the edges that you don’t need from the new eye layer.
This tutorial from Jason Niemier ( explains and shows this process (and there’s a bonus technique of replacing eyes when a person’s blinked)

If both eyes have reflection:
This is a bit trickier as it depends upon where the glare is located on the eye.

Here are two recommendations:

If leaving the photo in color: work on one eye (using the Patch and Clone Stamp tools) and rebuild the eye without the glare. If it looks okay, then copy the eye, flip it, and paste it over the other eye as mentioned above.

If converting the photo to black and white: convert the photo to black and white. As some of the color information is removed, you have more flexibility in what to clone/patch than with a color photo.

Unfortunately with removing glare from glasses, it takes a bit of work and some trial and error to get how you’d like it.

There are a number of more tutorials online discussing this problem, but hopefully this has given you a start in removing those pesky glares from your photos.

Photo from Pexels

Removing Red-Eye in Photos

Red eye is what happens when using a flash on your camera when taking a photo. The flash produces a lot of light that reflects back into the camera on the pupil. A recommendation is to either use reflected light (natural) or turn off the flash altogether.

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Although there are many ways to fix red eye, we’ll go over three ways in this post.

Version 1: Using the PS Red Eye Tool

1. Open the photo.
2. Select the “Spot Healing Brush” tool from the menu bar (it looks like a band-aid).
3. Press Shift+J until the Red Eye Tool (an eye with a plus) appears.
4. Click on the red pupil in the photo.
5. The pupil is now black and the red eye is hidden.

Version 2: Manually removing Red Eye
Note: Use this when the PS tool doesn’t work quite right

1. Duplicate layer
2. Zoom in to get close to the red eye.
3. Select the red eye – use the elliptical marquee tool and draw a circle around the part to change.
4. To preserve the natural highlight in the eye (white part in the red eye), select the Magic Wand Tool. Hold down the ALT/Option key to deselect that part from the elliptical marquee.
5. Desaturate the color to remove the red – Command-Shift-U (Mac), Control-Shift-U (PC), or Image->Adjustment->Desaturate
6. Darken the pupil – press B for the brush tool, ensure that the foreground color is black, set the opacity low (about 15-30%), and paint until the color is a dark grey (most pupils aren’t jet black in photos).
7. Deselect (Command/Control-D) when done.
8. Zoom out to see the final product. If it’s not all corrected, zoom back in and carefully darken the pupil area with the brush.
9. Repeat for the other eye.

Version 3: Manually Removing Red Eye
Note: This version works well on animal eyes.

1. Open the photo.
2. Duplicate the layer.
3. Select the paint brush. Ensure that the blending mode is “color” and ensure that the foreground colour is black, with 100% opacity.
4. Carefully paint over the colored section of the eye – leaving the highlight. Ensure that the eye is now a dark grey color. Here you are desaturating the eye color.
5. Now add back in the color – select the burn tool from the menu (shaped like a hand); Select Midtones from the menu bar and set the exposure to between 15-25%. Paint over until it’s a dark grey/black color.
6. Repeat for the other eye.

Photo from Wikipedia Commons

Photography Fixes: Introduction

Welcome to a new month – and a new blog theme. This month we’ll cover photography, but with a twist.

Let’s all admit that we don’t always take THE perfect photos. While you may take a great photo, when you look at it more closely there’s seemingly something off about it – someone doing something in the background, a soda bottle in the foreground, or a branch from a tree jutting out of a person’s body. Unfortunately we’re not all luckily enough to take perfect photos every time. So, what to do in those cases if you want to preserve the memory? Luckily there are some things computer programs can help with – such as Photoshop or GIMP – to improve photos. And sometimes, you just have to embrace the imperfections – especially if the photo or story is precious.

This month we’ll take a look at some common “bad photo” fixes and how to hopefully reduce some other issues. Not all of these suggestions provide step-by-step directions as, often, it’s a bit of trial and error, but we’ll provide general guidelines to enable you to preserve those photos.

Font Wrap-Up

On this last day of May, we’d like to thank you for reading about our “Month of TYPE.”

This month we mainly focused on creating interesting titles for your scrapbook pages. Some of these techniques might’ve been old to you, but we hope that you learned a new tip or two to add some interest to your titles. As always, have fun playing with these ideas (have you found a new favourite font combination?) and expand on them in your own scrapbook pages.

Join us next month as we explore hiding imperfections in photos on scrapbook pages.

As always, if you’ve any questions or comments about the topics covered on this blog, please post them in our forum.