It's always best to get a photo right when you shoot it so that the image coming out of the camera is a good one with little or no need for post processing.
But realistically speaking, it doesn't always work out that way.
So there are going to be times when you don't get things perfect in the camera. And that includes exposure. Even the most careful photographer will occasionally snap a photo that's off exposure. It happens to all of us. So it's good to know what can be done about this in Photoshop Elements.
Begin by opening your image in the Photoshop Elements Editor workspace. Move to the Quick Edit mode by clicking on the Quick tab at the top of the Editor workspace.
I have the image that I want to work on opened here. As you can see, my photo is a bit dull looking because it's underexposed and lacks contrast, meaning that there isn't a lot of difference in tonal value between the shadows, mid tones and highlights.
I'll use the Levels and Exposure adjustments found in the Adjustments panel along the right side of the workspace to see if I can make this photo look better.
We'll start with a Levels adjustment. Click on Levels. This will open a dialog box that contains controls for adjusting the tonal value of the areas of the image that are the brightest (the highlights), the shadowy areas and the midtones.
Each tonal area can be adjusted separately by clicking on the appropriate tab in the Levels panel and then using either the preview thumbnails or the slider above the thumbnails to increase or decrease the tonal value. The current tonal value is designated with a white, curved arrow on one of the preview thumbnails.
For my photo, I'm going to start by adjusting the shadows. After clicking on the Shadows tab, I'll click through the preview thumbnails to see what looks good. For my photo, I'll choose the third thumbnail because I like the way it brightens the areas behind my flower and allows more detail to show through.
I'll do the same to adjust the midtones and the highlights.
My photo is looking a lot better already:
It's better, but I think it still needs just a bit of overall brightening. For that, I'll use the Exposure adjustment.
Click on Exposure to open it's dialog box. As with the Levels adjustment, the Exposure adjustment can be made using either preview thumbnails or a slider.
After clicking through the preview thumbnails, I decide that I'm not happy with any of them. I only want to add a small amount of brightening to my photo and all of the thumbnails add too much light. So instead, I'll use the slider and tweak it just a bit to add 0.3 stops of light:
So that's it! I'm done!
Here's my before and after:
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f you are just getting started in photography, exposure is one of the first things you need learn.
But even beyond that, getting a good handle on exposure and how the different components of exposure work together is essential if you want to take control of your photography and the images that you are creating.