Fix It In Photoshop | How To Brighten or Darken An Image

David Coultham

Updated on:

If your image is looking too dull or bright then you probably need to adjust the exposure. Here is how to do that in Photoshop:

We are going to edit our image in the Adobe Photoshop Camera RAW App. If you are working on a RAW file, then you can ignore the 1st two steps in this tutorial, as you will go directly into Camera RAW when you open the file. If you are working on a JPG or other compressed format, then these preparatory steps will ensure that any changes are non-destructive.

STEP 1: Make sure you have the image you want to edit inside Camera RAW selected in the Layers Tab of the Panels. Then right-click on the Layer and select ‘Convert To Smart Object’. You can also go via the Application Bar and ‘Layer >Smart Objects > Convert To Smart Object’. This ensures that any changes done in Camera RAW are stored in Photoshop, i.e., your edits are non-destructive.

STEP 2: Head up to the Application Bar and select ‘Filter > Camera RAW Filter’. Camera RAW then opens. When you have finished editing in Camera RAW you select ‘OK’ to commit any changes you have made, and you return to Photoshop.

STEP 3: If your image is looking too dull, then head to the Basic Panel and the Exposure Slider, and increase the Exposure value. Conversely, if you want to darken an image that is too bright, then move the Exposure Slider to the left.

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Video | Brighten or Darken An Image

The Exposure Slider isn’t in the true sense increasing the overall exposure as it is a selective adjustment as opposed to a global adjustment. What this does, is target the mid-tone elements of the image and give them a boost, whilst leaving the darks and whites intact.

TOP TIP: It’s a good idea to balance the contrast first before touching the Exposure Slider. The reason is that these individual contrast sliders tend to be less harsh than the Exposure Slider. 

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