Fixing overexposure problems in Lightroom or Photoshop is not hard, but it can be time-consuming. In the below tutorial, Francisco Hernandez of FJH Photography shows you how to quickly correct an overexposure so you can spend more time shooting photos and less time in the editing room.
In the video at the bottom of this post, Hernandez shows you a straight-out-of-camera portrait with a blown-out sky in the background and demonstrates how to recover the color and the details from the overexposed image. The image at the top of this story shows you the before and the after.
Hernandez’s photo was shot with a single speedlight flash with a shoot-through umbrella, which did produce a decent exposure of his subject. “I really wanted to demonstrate that you can take great photos with basic gear,” he notes. “But sometimes if you mess up you need to do a little bit of post work, which is what we’re doing in this video.”
Step 1: Correct the Exposure in the Bright Areas
“What I’m going to do right now is lower the exposure of the entire shot by .8 of a stop,” Hernandez says. “Right now, she is dark, but the exposure of the background is where I would want it to be. Not too bright but not too dark.”
Step 2: Increase Exposure on Subject
“Lightroom does have new features to isolate the subject where you can adjust the exposure just on certain subjects, but you can also do it manually. To do it manually, click on the plus and click on brush and then add an exposure adjustment on the side.”
Step 3: Increase the Colors
“The way I increase the colors in Lightroom is scrolling all the way to the bottom and where it says ‘Calibration,’ the blue primary saturation slider is something that I always bring from 60 to 80. That adds so much color to the photo and more life, in my opinion.”
Step 4: Tweak the Sky
“At this point, I think the exposure is perfectly fine but let’s say I wanted that sky a little bit more dramatic, a little bit more present and visible. Then I would get another adjustment brush and selectively paint the sky, or I could just lower the highlights over the entire shot a little bit more. I feel like that did a good job.”