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This post was most recently updated on January 8th, 2023

Overexposure is a roadblock that all photographers are likely to come into contact with during their artistic journey. It’s one of the most common issues beginners will find, and something that even experienced pros will run into from time to time.

The good news is, overexposed images can be fixed in Photoshop or Lightroom without too much hassle. Are you looking for a detailed explanation of overexposure in photography and how to fix it?

If this sounds like you, then you have arrived at the right place! This article has been written to take you through everything you need to know about overexposure.

We are going to explain what it is, and how to fix an image that has been overexposed using either program. We have also included a guide that will help you to learn how to recover detail from your image by selectively increasing exposure levels, as well as a short FAQ section to help with any additional questions you might have about this issue.

Overexposed Images: What Happens?

When you shoot a photo in bright light, there’s a chance that the shutter speed may not have been fast enough to stop the sun from burning out the sensor. If this happens, then the entire image becomes underexposed.

This means that the brightest areas of the scene become black and white while darker areas remain exposed.

To get rid of this effect, you need to increase the amount of light hitting the sensor. This can be done by raising the ISO setting on your camera. However, if you do so, then you run the risk of blowing out highlights as well.

If you want to avoid this issue altogether, you can use a neutral density filter. These filters reduce the amount of light coming through the lens by up to 10 stops. They also help prevent over-exposing the image when shooting outdoors.

However, they aren’t cheap and they don’t always work perfectly. For example, they can cause vignetting which makes the edges of the frame appear dark.

Another solution is to raise the shutter speed. By doing this, you can keep the same aperture but slow down the shutter speed. This way, you can ensure that the image remains properly exposed.

But what about those times when you don’t have access to any of these tools? Well, you still have options. There are ways to recover details lost due to overexposure.

Recovering Details From An Overly Exposed Image Using Adobe Photoshop

Recovering Details From An Overly Exposed Image Using Adobe Photoshop

Step 1 – Open Your Underexposed Photo

Before we start, make sure that you have opened your original file. If you haven’t already, download the free trial version of Photoshop here. Once downloaded, open the software and create a new document.

Step 2 – Selective Adjustment Tool

Next, select the “Selective Adjustment” tool located at the top right corner of the screen. This tool allows you to adjust specific areas within your image.

Step 3 – Choose Areas Of Interest

Now, click on the area of interest that you wish to recover. Make sure that the area is completely selected before clicking OK.

Step 4 – Increase Exposure Levels

Once you’ve clicked OK, you should see a dialog box pop up. Click on the arrow next to the word “Exposure” and drag it upwards until you reach the desired level.

Step 5 – Save And Close

After making changes, click OK. Then save the file and close the application.

Recovering Detail From An Overexposed Image Using Adobe Lightroom

Step 1 – Import Your File

First things first, you need to import your image into Lightroom. If you haven‘t yet, download the free trial edition of Lightroom here. Once downloaded, launch the software and create a New Collection.

Step 2 – Create A Smart Album

After creating a collection, add your image to the album. Next, go to the Library module and click on the little gear icon.

Step 3 – Edit Metadata

Click on the “Edit Metadata” button. Now, scroll down to the bottom of the window and look for the keyword “ISO”. You will notice that there is no value listed under this field.

Step 4 – Add The Value

Click on the + sign in the bottom left-hand corner of the metadata editor. Type in the number 100 in the textbox provided.

Step 5 – Apply Changes

You may now exit the metadata editor and return to the main catalog view.

Step 6 – Use The Recovery Brush

Go back to the library module and select the brush tool. Then, choose an exposure recovery brush from the dropdown menu.

Step 7 – Start Painting

Start painting with the brush tool over the parts of the image that you would like to remove the noise.

Step 8 – Remove Noise

When finished, click outside of the canvas to stop editing.

Step 9 – Export Your Image

After completing all edits, export your image in JPEG or TIFF format.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it! These were some simple steps to help you fix images that are too dark or too bright. We hope that you found them useful and that you now feel a lot more confident in how to fix the common problem of overexposure.

If you need more information on this subject, check below for a short Frequently Asked Questions section.

Happy snapping!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Correct Exposure For An Image?

The correct exposure depends on many factors including the type of camera used, the aperture setting, the ISO sensitivity settings, the shutter speed, and whether or not the flash was used.

However, if you are shooting in RAW mode, then you can use the histogram to determine the correct exposure.

If I am using my DSLR, what is the best way to set the correct exposure?

The easiest way to achieve the correct exposure is to use the manual exposure mode. Set the appropriate f-stop and shutter speed values. Also, note the camera’s ISO sensitivity setting.

Can I Use Autofocus While Taking Pictures?

Yes, but be careful when doing so. Autofocus can cause blurriness in your photos. If you do decide to use autofocus, make sure that the focus point is set to either single or continuous AF.

Is It Possible To Take Pictures At Night Without A Tripod?

Yes, but only if you are very experienced. First, ensure that you have the right equipment. This includes a sturdy tripod, a remote release cable, and a powerful flashlight.

Also, consider using a slow shutter speed such as 1/30th second. Lastly, don’t forget to turn off the flash.

What Is Dynamic Range? 

Dynamic range refers to the difference between the lightest part of the photo and the darkest part of the photo. A good dynamic range means that there are no shadows or highlights that appear completely black or white.

Why does my image appear blurry after being taken?

This usually happens because the camera has been moved during the time that the picture was taken. Try moving the camera before each shot to avoid this problem.

How Can I Get Rid Of The Red-Eye Effect?

Red-eye occurs when light enters the lens and reflects off of the retina inside the human eye. Red eyes are caused by the reflection of light off of blood vessels located behind the retina.

To reduce the appearance of red eyes, try turning off the flash. Also, place a piece of tape over the subject’s eyes. Finally, if these methods fail, ask someone else to take the picture instead.