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fixing underexposed photos in photoshop

in the summer of 2006, i ran off to europe to go see the world cup. i took about 1000 photos, most of which turned out fine. unfortunately, i didn't realize that i nearly botched an entire digital roll: i had mistakenly set my exposure bias to -1.33, causing about 200 photos all to look rather dim.

here's one example:

the foreground is clearly underexposed.

i played around in photoshop for a simple way to remedy this problem. (emphasis on simple, since i would have to apply this process for another 200 photos.) not surprisingly, the "exposure" adjustment fits the bill perfectly. it can be found here:

simply adjust the three knobs: exposure, offset, and gamma to adjust the image brightness.

i found that to correct for underexposure, i wanted to set the exposure and gamma parameters to positive values. i didn't have much luck modifying the offset: it's quite sensitive.

in any case, with the preceding values, the original image above is transformed into the one below:

(of course, now portions of the background are nearly washed out. but, i'd argue that that's more than compensated for by the more compelling foreground. besides, you can't expect any post-processing miracles after fiddling with only two sliders.)

repeatedly applying this exposure compensation process to multiple images is a cinch. here's how to do it.


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