How to Fix Overexposed Images in 3 Steps in Adobe Lightroom

by Jeremy Gray

published Saturday, January 29, 2022 at 6:30 a.m. EST

If you accidentally blow out a picture – and who doesn’t once in a while? – there are different ways to try to save the image. You don’t need to delete it instantly. Photographer Pye Jirsa from SLR Lounge shows how to fix an overexposed image in Lightroom in three easy steps. The video is part of SLR Lounge “Master Your Craft” series for Adorama TV.

If you want to follow Jirsa, you can download the exercise files used here. If you’re trying to fix a blown portrait, you might want to adjust the white balance first to make sure the skin tones are accurate. With a blown image, the white balance can sometimes be a bit inaccurate for skin tones. The next step is to reduce the top of the tone curve to reduce highlights and add midtone contrast. This gives your photo a somewhat matte look while reducing the blown out area of ​​the bright white. A light touch is ideal here because you don’t want to introduce posterization.

The second stage is HDR + HSL. This means you make a single photo look HDR (high dynamic range) while adjusting hue, saturation, and luminance. The HDR part of the process is to reduce the highlights and increase the shadows to balance the image. The HDR approach can negatively impact color accuracy and saturation, so that’s where HSL adjustments come in.

The third step is to make localized exposure adjustments to your subject. In the most recent version of Lightroom Classic, Adobe added a “Select Subject” tool and it works great for creating a precise mask of your subject, allowing for simple and precise adjustments. You can also use luma masks, chroma masks, or brushing techniques to select your subject or refine an automatic selection. You can use selective exposure adjustments on your subject to further balance your shot.

By combining all three techniques, you can achieve a beautiful end result that softens the bright white areas of an image while restoring detail to your subject and creating a more uniform and pleasing image. If you want to know more about the technique, go to SLR Lounge.

(Via SLR Lounge)

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