Introduction

how to fix an overexposed photo in lightroom

Usage of Adobe Lightroom is one of the most fundamental and essential skill that all image editors and photographers should have, as well as master. This is mainly because getting the best exposure that you get in every shot is almost an impossible thing to do and hence, we need help from external software like Lightroom. In this article, we are going to give you a step-by-step guide that will help you answer your question on how to fix an overexposed photo in Lightroom.

The steps are pretty easy if you get the hang of it and in fact, the first thing that we are going to talk about is your understanding on how the adjustment of exposure tools really work and feel in Adobe Lightroom. If you want to fix photos that are overexposed in Lightroom, the first thing that you have to do is slide the Highlight slider to the left.

After that, you have to follow up with the White adjustment, while slowly pushing them to the negative values. Finally, the last step you need to do is to use the Exposure slider and then work on the exposure level. You should use this slider depending on the desired level of the exposure that you want to see.

Learning about Exposure and Overexposure

One of the biggest and the most fundamental concepts when we talk about photography in general is exposure. If you start your photography journey, one of the first basic things that we learn is the concept of exposure. In terms of photography, it is determined by the amount of light that the photographer mainly permits the sensors in the camera to receive.

In general term, it is basically how dark or bright the images in your photographs are. Whenever you are taking photos, you take the help of a lot of tools that will help you control the amount of light that is inserted into your camera’s lens. Among them, aperture, ISO, and shutter speed are the most important. With the help of these tools, you will be able to change the lighting of the same scene differently every time you take them.

When the picture you take is too dark, then it is called “underexposed”. On the other hand, when the photo is too bright, we then call it “overexposed”. When the photo has a brightness and contrast that is perfect, we will then call it “properly exposed”. Photographers all the time try to fix their overexposed shots with the help of Lightroom.

Why does a photo come out overexposed?

Almost all cameras can do a good job when they are taking photos in a well-lit or balanced environment. However, it is seen that in a lot of cases, the subject that we are trying to take photos of have uneven or not ideal lighting.

Usually, when the lighting in the environment is very complex, for example, during the sunrises or sunsets, we have a lot of areas where there are shadows and also really bright areas, in the environment, the camera and its lighting meters can make bad calculations and hence, this will result in a wrong exposure of the overall photo.

Most of the time, overexposed photos are seen when this meter of exposure thinks that the scene that we are trying to capture is darker, which results in a boost of exposure and hence, it makes the image look too bright or lit. It is really common for all of us to take overexposed photos. We shouldn’t be embarrassed of them and instead, learn how to fix and make them properly exposed in post-processing, with the help of Lightroom.

How to Fix an Overexposed Photo in Adobe Lightroom

Fixing An Overexposed Photo

After you have imported your batch of photos, you will always see that a few photos are overexposed or in general term, too bright. You will be able to find out if an area inside a photo is overexposed or not through a tool called Histogram. To go there, you have to click the Develop Module and then click on the Histogram panel that you will find on the top-right corner of the software if you can’t find it by default after opening a photo.

After that, press “J” on keyboard to start the Clipping Indicators. These Clipping Indicators mostly show the areas that are too bright or too dark in your photo. The places where it is too bright are highlighted in red, whereas the places where it is too dark are highlighted in blue color. In this article, we are working with overexposure only and hence, we will work with the red colored highlights only.

The highlighted areas that are red says that the parts of the image are blown out. This also means that the parts are pure white and hence, they don’t have any information inside them. So, they cannot be recovered or the data inside them are lost. However, we have to keep in mind that things like these are mostly done for images that are JPEG format because the Histogram that is inside Lightroom doesn’t process RAW information and rather, works with JPEG information.

This means that if you are shooting and the final photos come out as JPEG images, then it means that the data inside the image cannot be recovered and hence, if they are blown out, they cannot be resolved. As a result, we would recommend shooting in RAW, which will give us a chance to bring back the data that are lost and hence, we still might be able to work and recover the image.

Please do keep in mind that Histogram cannot give us an accurate representation of the RAW image and hence, it is hard to look and work on the recovery of the image if you look at the histogram. However, you can definitely see if there is any change by moving the sliders around.

Step Number 1- Recovering the Highlights

Recovering the Highlights In Lightroom

In our production desk, most of us start the recovery process by using the Highlighter Slider. We usually drag the slider until it reaches -100. This slider affects and works on only the bright side of the image and it won’t affect the mid-tones, shadows, and pure whites, which will make sure that the image doesn’t break down completely.

A reason why people use the Highlights Slider as the most important and effective tool for recovering the blown-out photos is that the tool has special algorithm that works well for recovering the image. For example, if for some reason, one of the three color channels (red, blue, and green) lacks information because of overexposure, this algorithm will try to rebuild it based on the other two channels. As a result, you can say that this algorithm can make something from nothing!

After that, we try to evaluate if the adjustments made on the Highlights slider can recover the overexposed areas. If we see that it didn’t work, then we have to go to the next recovery option.

Step Number 2- Adjusting the Whites of the Image

Adjusting the Whites of the image In lightroom

As the name suggests, the Whites Slider mostly affects the areas that are the brightest in the image. It can even work on pure whites. However, there is no mechanism inside it that can rebuild the color information. This slider is mostly used for setting the white point in an image that will give it a wide tonal range of colors.

As a rule of thumb, we usually slide the whole bar to the left of this slider until it reaches the value of -100 and then we see if that has fixed the overexposure of the image. However, if it doesn’t work on that too, then we will again go to the next part of the recovery.

Step Number 3- Balancing the Exposure of the Image

Balancing the Exposure of the Image in Lightroom

This Slider mostly affects the overall brightness and the exposure of the image that tries to follow the similar effect of the camera’s exposure, for example, the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO of the camera. If we give you an example, suppose you have taken two photos that has the same scene where one of them is properly exposed and on the hand, the other one is underexposed, but just by only one stop.

Then if we bring both of these two images to Lightroom and then boost the Exposure of the image that is underexposed by one stop, this will create two identical images that looks similar in exposure.In this final step, we click on the Exposure Slider and then start to slowly move it to the left, which will ultimately make the image darker.

However, even after making the image darker, if you see that the white part of the image is still blown out, that will definitely mean that the image cannot be recovered any further. According to the experience that we have gathered here so far, if the image is overexposed by one stop, then the Highlighter Slider will be able to recover the brightest areas.

You will be able to balance the overall brightness of the photo later on using this Slider. On the other hand, if the image has been overexposed by more than 1.5 to 2 stops, then we will need to work on all three tools to make it work. The final result then won’t always be predictable because you will simply have to try and determine if the recovery of the image is possible or not through them.

FAQ

Can you fix overexposed Polaroid’s?

Yes! You can definitely fix overexposed Polaroid’s with the help of Adobe Lightroom. However, please do keep in mind that if the pictures have become too white or light, then there won’t be any data inside the images for the software to read. As a result, it will then be not possible to fix and properly expose the images.

How do you fix overexposed whites?

The Whites Slider mostly affects the areas that are the brightest in the image. It can even work on pure whites. However, there is no mechanism inside it that can rebuild the color information. This slider is mostly used for setting the white point in an image that will give it a wide tonal range of colors. As a rule of thumb, we usually slide the whole bar to the left of this slider until it reaches the value of -100 and then we see if that has fixed the overexposure of the image.

How do you fix sun in pictures?

The sun light that comes through an image mostly comes from overexposure of the image and this can be balanced through different exposure tools that can be found in Adobe Lightroom. Among them, we can use the Exposure Sliders, White Sliders and the Highlighter Slides. However, we have to keep in mind that if the photo is a lot overexposed, then it will be hard for us to regain the lost information that is inside the image.

Conclusions

The best and the most efficient way to avoid getting photos that are overexposed is to learn the usage of Histogram that is already there in your camera. If we learn that, this will definitely help us get the right exposure all the time. However, if you still come under a situation that will make you use the software, we hope this article will help you guide through the journey on how to fix an overexposed photo in Lightroom.

We hope you liked our article and do let us know if you have any questions in the comments section. Also, do look at the previous articles that we have published and hopefully, you will like them too.