How to Correct Underexposed or Overexposed Photos

One aspect of Photoshop that is outstanding is its ability to correct flaws in photographs. The number of flaws ranges from red eyes, to grainy images or exposure problems. Whatever it is, it can be annoying if after a wedding event or if during a holiday you thought your camera had captured that amazing shot only to find that the photo has a problem.

Two of the most common problems relate to lighting – underexposure and overexposure. There are filters you can buy that will correct these issues just by moving a slider though Photoshop offers a quick solution too.

Underexposed shots tend to be the ones suffering from noisy appearances. As s result, too much manipulation in Photoshop can worsen the problem. The amount of noise can increase where the dark areas are being lightened so care is needed when manipulating the image.

If underexposed, these steps will correct the problem:

  1. Open the photo and right click the background layer, select duplicate layer.
  2. Right click the duplicate layer and set the blend mode to Screen.
  3. Go to Image, adjustments and levels and adjust the output levels slider by moving the black arrow further to the right until the photo is at your desired brightness level – this should only need a small adjustment.
  4. Depending on the amount of exposure needed, you may need to repeat 2 and 3. Take care with backgrounds beyond windows or direct sunlight; these areas can end up being burnt out.
  5. Now you can save it.

Similarly, if the image is overexposed, manipulating the image needs to be done carefully. Though, it can be a quick task:

  1. Once again, duplicate the layer.
  2. Change the blend mode to Multiply.
  3. Repeat duplicating the layers until you have the desired darkened effect.
  4. Compensate with Levels again if needed by sliding the output levels slider to the left.
  5. Another way to compensate is to adjust the opacity of the duplicate layers until you have the correct amount of exposure. It may be sufficient to have just one duplicate layer that need its opacity reduced. It depends on the amount of overexposure.

So don’t worry I f your favorite memories are suffering from exposure issues, a few changes in Photoshop will correct the issue.

By Stephen Davies

Stephen Davies MSc is a content writer/copywriter and director of, which offers SEO writing and marketing services to the SMB market.

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