Practical Photoshop Elements: A Quick Fix for Underexposed Photos

April 23, 2014

Practical Photoshop Elements: A Quick Fix for Underexposed Photos

We recently talked about fixing exposure problems by using Quick Edit in Photoshop Elements. In this post, we're going to look at another way to fix an exposure problem by using the Screen Blend mode to brighten a dark photo.

The Screen mode lightens an image in a way that's similar to what would happen if you were to project multiple copies of the same slide onto a screen, stacking the individual projections on top of each other. The result would be a lighter version of the photograph. In this technique, we are going to use that lightning effect to brighten our underexposed image.

This technique works in both Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Elements.

Step 1

Open your image in the Photoshop Elements Editor workspace. Since this technique involves working in Layers, we will need to move to the Expert Edit workspace. To do this, click on the Expert tab at the top of the Editor workspace.

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Again, we're going to be working in Layers for this quick fix. By default, the Layers panel should be visible in the Panel bin located along the right hand side of the workspace. If you don't see the Layers panel, click on the Layers icon found in the bottom Taskbar.

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Step 2

Next, add a Levels Adjustment layer. To do this, click the Create Adjustment Layer button (the half blue/half white circle icon) at the top of the Layers palette and choose "Levels" from the drop down menu.

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The Levels adjustment window will pop open. You don't need to make any changes in this window so just click the X in the upper left corner to close the dialog box.

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Step 3

Select the new Levels Adjustment layer by clicking on it in the Layers panel…

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…and click on the Layer Blending mode (currently set to Normal) at the top of the Layers Panel. A drop box will appear, displaying a selection of blend modes. Click on Screen.

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You'll instantly see your image get brighter.

Step 4

Now all that is left to do is adjust the level of brightness if needed. You can use the Layer Opacity adjustment slider, found at the top of the Layers Panel, for this. With the Levels Adjustment layer still selected, move the opacity slider back and forth until you get the result you want.

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By the way, if you want to make the image even lighter, you can add additional Levels Adjustment layers until the photo looks good to you.

That's it! You're done.

Here's my before and after:

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