Underexposed my digital photos is there anyway to lighten them up?

TB
Posted By
TONY_BEAZLEY
Aug 13, 2004
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665
Replies
32
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Closed
I would say 1-1/4 stop under.

Went to San Jaun and took alot of pics of the people there. I was exposing for the sand and whites because of the small digital latitude but the darks are dark- dissapointing dark .
It looked great in the lcd though.

I have tried equalize on a few which did ok but some were way too noisy , is there a better way to lighten these up?

Thanks for any help
Tony B

I was using the Canon optura 20 video cam still shot no flash

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R
Ram
Aug 13, 2004
Try the new Shadow/Highlight adjustment in Photoshop 8.

Now, if you had been shooting with a real camera and in RAW, the underexposure would be a trivial thing to fix. 😉
AR
Andrew Rodney
Aug 13, 2004
I wouldn’t say trivial and under exposing RAW data isn’t good!
R
Ram
Aug 13, 2004
No it’s not good, no one is recommending it; but underexposure in RAW is a lot easier to fix than on a still from a video camera. I’ve fixed someone else’s overexposures in RAW to a degree I would never have tried on a TIFF, much less a JPEG.
R
Ram
Aug 13, 2004
The exposure controls in ACR are astonishing.
AR
Andrew Rodney
Aug 13, 2004
–>The exposure controls in ACR are astonishing.

Yes, the are indeed. It’s however better to err on the side of over exposure up to the point you don’t clip all three channels. Expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights worked for film. With RAW, you really want to expose for the highlights.
R
Ram
Aug 13, 2004
Andrew,

With RAW, you really want to expose for the highlights.

With all due respect, I totally disagree. My short experience with RAW, after over fifty years of shooting film, teaches me the exact opposite of what you say.
AR
Andrew Rodney
Aug 13, 2004
RAW is a linear gamma. If you have a 12 bit file, the first 2048 bits are the first stop of highlight detail, the shadows make up 64 bits. You have tons more latitude in the highlights, very few in shadows, a bit more in midtones. Under exposing a RAW file even a bit causes a lot more noise in shadows and midtones.
R
Ram
Aug 13, 2004
Andrew,

Maybe I’m misinterpreting one of your posts; but I’m not sure which one. I’ll report back when I have time to sort it out.
AR
Andrew Rodney
Aug 13, 2004
This one is more to the point (about highlight exposure):

< http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/expose-right.sht ml>
R
Ram
Aug 13, 2004
Thanks, Andrew.

I’ll tackle the abominably designed Luminous Landscape site tomorrow. I’m too tired today to look at all that white text on black background. (I know, Control-Option-Command 8 , but then you have to toggle it to look at the images. 🙁 )
RH
r_harvey
Aug 13, 2004
With all due respect, I totally disagree. My short experience with RAW, after over fifty years of shooting film, teaches me the exact opposite of what you say.

Heh. I didn’t come here for an argument.

So I guess exposing transparency and negative film is exactly the same?

I thought the digital metaphor was closer to transparency, while negative was closer to… not transparency.
R
Ram
Aug 13, 2004
I hate slide film.
R
Ram
Aug 13, 2004
I have no idea what "negitive" is. Sounds like a racial epithet.
RH
r_harvey
Aug 13, 2004
It’s like bad vibes… downer, man. Kodachrome rocks, dude!
R
Ram
Aug 13, 2004
Chinese.
LT
Laurentiu_Todie
Aug 13, 2004
Kodachrome
Best film ever made (not for the faint of heart : ).
RH
r_harvey
Aug 13, 2004
Dude!

Like digital, you expose transparency film to not blow-out the highlights. With negative film, you want to not vaporize the shadows.
LT
Laurentiu_Todie
Aug 13, 2004
My color separation teacher (from way back) wrote a book about Kodachrome (two years ago).

< http://johnkeyes.com/a/1931885087-americans-in-kodachrome-19 45-1965.html>
NK
Neil_Keller
Aug 13, 2004
Meanwhile, back to our story… <vbg>

If the digital images are underexposed to the point of little or no shadow detail; and if there is any hint of noise, there is little hope in salvaging the images.

Neil
R
Ram
Aug 13, 2004
Andrew,

OK, it turns out I had already thoroughly read both of the links you provided, so I didn’t learn anything new there just right now.

As a matter of fact, this quote from the second one of those links is what I had in mind:

The simple lesson to be learned from this is to bias your exposures so that the histogram is snugged up to the right, but not to the point that the highlights are blown.

It appears you took issue with my statement about being able to rescue an underexposed image because you thought I was recommending underexposing images. Nothing can be farther from the truth. If that’s the way my post read, I expressed myself poorly.

My comments were made within the context of the original post:

Underexposed my digital photos is there anyway to lighten them up? I would say 1-1/4 stop under.

A RAW image underexposed by 1-1/4 stops is far from ideal, but salvaging it in ACR is not that hard; if you don’t like the adjective trivial, substitute it for any other one you want. It’s certainly more "trivial" than trying to fix an image with blown highlights.

I’m not advocating either extreme.
RH
r_harvey
Aug 13, 2004
My color separation teacher (from way back) wrote a book about Kodachrome (two years ago).

I hope it was a retrospective. That would be a very good thing, since so many powerful pictures seem to have been done with Kodachrome. I think it was the feeling that you were making something permanent and as good as the format and optical system supported, and you felt obligated to take your time and do a good job. I suppose narrow-latitude digital could inspire that attitude.
R
Ram
Aug 13, 2004
Neil,

there is little hope in salvaging the images.

Much less hope is there of fixing blown highlights.

Ideally, you expose your images properly or you start all over again, from scratch.

If the digital images are underexposed to the point of little or no shadow detail

That would hardly be the case with images underexposed by 1.25 F-stops –at least if you were using a real camera, I have no idea about stills from a videocam.
R
Ram
Aug 13, 2004
Incidentally, Tony, how do you manage to underexpose a whole batch of images? Doesn’t a video cam give you any feedback whatsoever? (I don’t know, I have never had the slightest interest in video, so I’ve never been anywhere near a video camera.)
TB
TONY_BEAZLEY
Aug 13, 2004
WOW that is totally a great feature!! Been using 7 alot and not 8 . That has got to be one of the best fixes ever!

I just fixed 98% of the pics . I will have to use ninja for some grain in a few of them but its better than trashing them.

Thanks Ramón for suggesting that feature . My hats off to the photoshop engineers!!!

What did we do 20 years ago with out it? geeeez

Tony Beazley
R
Ram
Aug 13, 2004
Tony,

I’m really glad it worked for you.
NK
Neil_Keller
Aug 13, 2004
Ramón,

I heartily agree that you can’t bring out highlight detail if it doesn’t exist. But the clue to me for salvageability was the mention of "noise", which to me indicted poor shadow detail capability of the camera and/or using too high an ISO rating during the original exposure.

I don’t know the camera involved, but I suppose it’s possible that it doesn’t have an LCD screen for image preview/review. Or it isn’t a good one. Or it wasn’t used.

And of course, that the best quality pictures are those that are correctly exposed at the time the shutter is snapped.

Neil
TL
Tim_Lookingbill
Aug 13, 2004
My Kodak HiDef 400 negs shot on my Olympus point and shoot processed through the Fuji Frontier minilab show shadow detail reaching as far as level 5-8 RGB in PS histograms. Viewing the file at 100%, in AdobeRGB, I can’t see any transition detail at this level. It’s just black. I can only distinguish detail starting around level 12 and up.

If I assign one of the canned 1.0 gamma based profiles (installed with my Agfa flatbed scanner driver), I’m surprised to see detail and very little noise. Of course doing this makes the rest of the image quite a bit washed out, I’ld still like to know if this level of shadow detail is necessary if you can’t see it anyway.

However, the highlites usually appear blown but the histogram shows detail and a curve adjusts brings the highlites back to life. What gives with that? A linear world colliding with 2.2 gamma world?
RH
r_harvey
Aug 13, 2004
The numbers don’t seem to help much. In most photographs, if anything is anywhere white, it looks blown-out. Try visually adjusting levels in the scanner software, and don’t pay any attention to whether or not it has a nice curve. 8-bit color really doesn’t do justice to a well-exposed transparency.
AS
Ann_Shelbourne
Aug 13, 2004
I don’t know how comprehensive Agfa’s scanning software might be, but most decent software does allow you to use a curved Curve rather than a straight-line one.
TB
TONY_BEAZLEY
Aug 14, 2004
Ramón G Castañeda – 9:02pm Aug 12, 04 Pacific (#24 of 30) Incidentally,
Tony, how do you manage to underexpose a whole batch of images? Doesn’t a video cam give you any feedback whatsoever? (I don’t know, I have never had the slightest interest in video, so I’ve never been anywhere near a video camera.)

Ramón
Well when out on the beach it was so hard to see the lcd ( which opens up on a video cam) so this made it almoxt entirely impossible to judge the exp. The sand looked so bright that I stopped down to what I thought might be the correct exp for the beach …actually it was pretty much on at the beaches it was just I had no way to use a fill flash on a video cam cold shoe. But the images of the natives on the island is what gave me some trouble. Plus most of the shots they were under a awning or in the shade..ugh!

Plus it was pretty much my first time to use the digital still image camera on a wide scale like that in bright sun and then in shade.

There is no histogram on this camera so I could not check that.

I know I know…if I want really good images spend $6 grand on a good slr yeah Ive got about $30k into my video business right now not sure if I want to get a canon or nikon. I almost jumped on the D70 last month. Still waiting…. it could use a couple of more options, not bad for 1k though, my friend got one.

Anyway the camera is a Canon Optura 20 pretty cool ,cheap, camera for $600 16x lens is great for those tight stills. Stills are 1280 x 960 jpg Its easy to lug around and it looks like a old super 8 camera and size which caught my attention.

Thanks for the tip on the shadow /highlight

Take care

Tony B
R
Ram
Aug 14, 2004
Thanks for elaborating, Tony. As I said, I know nothing about video.

You don’t have to spend anywhere near "$30k" on a camera that will give you better pictures. You can swing it on less than $1k. 🙂

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