Shadow Recovery of Backlight Problem


Have you ever  get this kind of problem? Is this problem really annoying you? if your answer is yes and you want to know how to fix this problem, please read my simple tutorial.

Actually there are two main ways in order to get rid of backlight problem. First is avoid this problem and second is fix this problem. Avoid backlight means you need to take photo in good condition, good technical setting, good lighting, etc – and it can be done before you take photo. Many people use reflector and flash to avoid backlight problem – they also use spot metering and increase exposure bias to avoid backlight problem. Fix backlight problem means you have a backlight photo but you try to fix it – many people will delete the photograph because the photo is really unacceptable (except you take shillouete photograph). In this tutorial, I will share my simple way to fix backlight problem – I use photoshop CS4 but you also can do this in other version of photoshop.

How to fix backlight problem:

1. Open a backlight photo.

2. Duplicate photo (Ctrl+J).

3. Click Image->Adjustment->Shadow Highlight.


I set the properties such below: (you must have experience to set the properties, each photo has different number to fix the shadow area and highlight area)


The result after step 3 is like this:


The result still disappointed regarding skin tone and the contrast, but it better than original photo hehe…..

4. Increase contrast – you can do this by level, curve, brightness&contrast, etc – the result is like this: (maybe you can’t see much different because I just increase contrast a little)

little contrast adjustment

5.  Correcting skin tone:

Change the skin tone by using curve adjustment – modify the RGB channel:


Apply masking so only the skin will be fixed by the curve:


The detail how to correct the skin tone can be seen in my previous tutorial (the idea just like step 4 ).

I think the result from step 5 is good except the background and the object have different saturation – the background colors are very dull so we will fix this in the next step.

6. Correcting environment tone.

I use hue saturation adjustment to correct this problem – for this photo I increase the saturation by +40, the result is like this:

environment tone1

What a terrible result !? – oops we forget to add masking for hue saturation adjustment. After we create masking for this adjustment, the result is like this:

environment tone2

7. Fix contrast and white balance to mix the object and the environment – about correcting white balance you can refer my previous tutorial. The result is like this:


8. Finalizing the photo – sharpening and noise reduction (about sharpening you can see the basic idea in my previous tutorial). The final result is like this:


Here it is before and after:


I hope after you read this tutorial, you learn how to fix backlight photo. If you read my tutorial and get stuck with some steps that means you need to read my other tutorials. I don’t like to write (again) something that I have written before. Anyway if you have questions, critiques, or suggestion don’t hesitate to write it out – I always open for your feedback. Thanks for visiting this website – if you have time you can see my other works (wedding and pre-wedding) here.

Anyway I have written other tutorial similar with this one in 2013 (new one and better than this one, I think), you can read here.

52 thoughts on “Shadow Recovery of Backlight Problem

    • Detail sudah saya email, Bro 🙂
      Jangan sungkan seandainya memerlukan bantuan di Surabaya, ada tambahan satu teman yang siap!

  1. 只是一個想法,你甚至可以將拍攝手冊書的基礎上您的著作在WordPress的。這行嗎?並賣給市民.

  2. @Antony Zhu:
    wah makasih…. klo ke Taiwan (klo saya masih disini jangan sungkan kontak – data saya udah dikirim via email)

  3. @B. Setiadi:
    現在我只要增加我的攝影技術 – 希望越來越比較好…

  4. Tks alot for your sharing fren, i learn a lot from your sharing about PS. Agree with Antony, You’re great Asset to Us, keep sharing Teacher heheheheh………..


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  10. thanks for your great info.. i read all your post on photoshop technique and it give me clearly idea what to do next .. thanks again!

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  16. hadeuh pak… belajar photography lagi gih… yang namanya backlight itu bisa diakalin langsung di kamera boss… caranya mainin settingan… ckckck… ediiit melulu di komputer namanya bukan photography lagi. Mangkanya belajar tu punya kamera canggih2 tapi orang Indo males belajar… ya kaliiii…. ckckck banyak yang asal ya sekarang, kamera yang penting mahal 😀

    • Mau dong belajar cara ngakalin backlight di kamera mba Nila. Aku punya kamera dan lensa kit …… pengen belajar nih . Dari dulu ga pernah bisa ngakalin backlight dari kamera langsung.

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