Fix It In Photoshop | How To Fix Clipped Highlights

David Coultham

Here is a short article on how to deal with clipped highlights / blown-out pixels in Adobe Photoshop:

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Video | How To Deal With Clipped Highlights

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.

Adobe Camera RAW tells you when you have clipped highlights using a yellow paint blob at the top right on the Histogram (illustrated above).  If you click on that paint blob Camera RAW gives you a visual representation of where the clipping is occurring, shown in the image above as a red overlay. 

STEP 3: Working from the basic panel, move the Highlights Slider to the left until the clipping disappears. If you have to move the slider too far then try bringing the slider back up to avoid over-processing; in which case:

STEP 4: Try moving the Whites Slider to the left until the clipping disappears. Once again, if you end up moving the slider too far, then:

STEP 5: Try reducing the Exposure Slider slightly by half a stop, then go back and adjust Highlights and Whites. 

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