Robert D Feinman

Correcting Overexposure


This image was exposed to show the detail in the side of the old train station.

As a result the building on the left, the water tower and the sky are all overexposed.

Original image
Original Image


We need to darken the overexposed areas so that they blend in better with the properly exposed portions.

Using various selection tools we select the portion on the left and create a curves adjustment layer.

The settings and the mask are shown at the right.

Curve Settings and Mask Curve Settings Curve Mask Curve Mask


Here is the image with the adjustment layer in place.

Notice that the left side now matches much more closely the colors in the station.

We increased the contrast and clipped the darkest values.

This worked because the overexposed areas contained only darker tones and still had image detail present.

Darkened Image
Darkened Image


This is as far as we would go if we wanted the image to look as it did when we photographed the scene.

It was taken on an overcast day and was actually raining slightly at the time.

To make it less harsh we added another layer to put some tint into the sky.

In this case we selected only the sky (using the color range tool) and added a gradient fill layer.

The gradient fill values and the mask are shown at the right.

Gradient Fill
Gradient Fill
Gradient Mask Gradient Mask


Here is the final image. We fine tune the effects by setting their opacity to less than 100%.

We created both adjustment layers with slightly too strong effects so that we can make fine adjustments at this stage.

The image is not perfect, but is a big improvement over the washed out original.

Full size final image

Final Image
Final Image
Original Image
Original Image
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© 2001 Robert D Feinman