Recover Under Exposure Photo With Photoshop


This tutorial is similar with my old tutorial about shadow recovery of backlight problem, you may check here first if you haven’t read it. The main step to recover under exposure photo is almost the same with the step in my old tutorial. I just add some modification steps which can produce a better result (IMHO). Let’s check it out….

First, just open your under exposure photo with Photoshop – for this tutorial I will use the same photo with cover. I took this photo with 5D Mark II and EF 200mm f/2L IS.


Next step, duplicate your photo (simply press ctrl + J).

Next step, click Image -> Adjustments -> Shadows/Highlights.

Photoshop will show Shadow/Highlight dialog box, just focus on shadows part. You can modify amount, tonal width, and radius until you satisfied with the result – for this photo I would change the value like below.


The result after shadows / highlights adjustment looked like this one. It looked better but still we need to improve more.


The next step is add curve adjustment layer, for this case I just want to increase a little bit brightness. The value of output and input are different for every photos (but normally if you want to increase a little bit brightness, the curve is about similar shape).


The result after you add curve adjustment layer:


The next step is adjust the skin tone because the skin color of the people / model usually change after you implement shadow / highlight adjustment. You can look back at shadows / highlights adjustment step, if you look carefully there is an option about color correction in shadows / highlights dialog box. Actually if you fill the value higher then the shadow part will be more color / saturation but looked not natural, but if you fill the value lower then the shadow part will be less color / saturation but looked pale. For this tutorial I just make the color correction +20 (as default).

There are many ways to adjust skin tone, but for this tutorial I just add hue / saturation adjustment layer. Then change master to reds, change the value of lightness to +5 (the value is different for every photo, just experiment with it and you will know the right value).


The result after adding hue / saturation adjustment layer:


The next step is an optional step, increase brightness and contrast for the photo (it is an optional step because normally I like soft/natural tone but some people maybe like more contrast tone ^^).

brightness contrast

The final result (after adjusting brightness and contrast) :


Comparison before and after:


I hope after you read this tutorial, you have idea to recover some under exposure photos. Comments, critiques, and suggestions are most welcome. Thanks for visiting my blog and website.

One thought on “Recover Under Exposure Photo With Photoshop

  1. Pingback: Shadow Recovery of Backlight Problem | Just about Photography

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