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Image a little off? Correct near-miss exposures with blending modes

Added on Friday 23rd of April 2010 05:35 am EST


Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3/CS4

Operating Systems:

Microsoft Windows, Macintosh


Grossly underexposed or overexposed images are obvious when viewed with your camera’s LCD, but every once in a while, your LCD may play tricks on you. If you take a less-than-perfect shot and discover later that your exposure was off base, take advantage of Photoshop’s blending modes to fix it.

To quickly compensate for incorrect exposure, we’ll:

Explain why viewing an image with your LCD can sometimes mislead you.

Review the functions of the Blending modes so you know what they are .

Adjust overexposed and underexposed examples to demonstrate how well our technique works.


Digital cameras provide the fantastic ability to review the image you just captured using your LCD. You can quickly check composition, focus, and exposure. If anything is wrong, you can usually take another shot before the moment disappears. But when some aspect of an image is only slightly askew, such as the exposure, it may not be noticeable on the LCD until you’ve had a chance to review it on your computer monitor. By then, it may be too late to attempt to reshoot the photo, but you can use Photoshop’s blending modes to save your image, as we did in Figure A.


Understand your LCD

The LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) found on your digital camera enables you to preview an image just a moment after you’ve captured it. You can check your image to see if you’re happy with the results or if you need to take another shot. But what you think you see with your LCD isn’t exactly what you’ll see on your computer monitor. Grossly overexposed or underexposed images are obvious when viewed with your LCD—they appear near white or near black, as shown in Figure B.


But there are several factors that make your LCD screen less than reliable for judging more subtle exposure issues:

The angle at which you view your LCD. As you change it, so does the apparent brightness of your image.

The brightness level of your LCD. On a number of digital cameras, you can increase or decrease the brightness to suit the viewing conditions.

The relative brightness of your environment. In a relatively bright area, such as outdoors on a sunny day, your LCD will appear dim. In a relatively dim area, such as inside on a cloudy day, it will appear brighter. If you compensate your exposure based on what you see, you may unintentionally over- or underexpose an otherwise correct exposure.

If you’re aware of the probl...


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