{Before & After} Brightening Underexposed Subjects in the Snow

December 13, 2012

in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw), Before & After, Fix-It Friday, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop

Brighten Underexposed Subjects in Snowy Photos - Photo Editing Tutorial via iHeartFaces.com


In this week’s “Before & After” photo editing tutorial, Julie Rivera Photography is demonstrating how to brighten the underexposed subjects of a photo with a lot of snow.

Cut me some slack…I lived in Texas for 8 years. Shooting in the snow was a new experience for me when we moved to Virginia. And I discovered it is pretty tricky. All that brilliant, reflective snow blinds the eye and really wreaks havoc on your camera’s light meter. Getting a properly exposed shot takes some trial and error. And a little trip through Photoshop.

“Before”

Here is my original image:

Brighten Underexposed Subjects in Snowy Photos - Photo Editing Tutorial via iHeartFaces.com

I am actually glad I did not expose the girls correctly because then the snow would have lost all definition. As it is, I can work to bring more light to their faces without further brightening the already very bright snow.

ACR

Even though this is a JPEG, I bring it into Adobe Camera Raw, which is akin to Lightroom, by clicking Command+R on a Mac. I do not want to make any universal changes to this image because the areas of  highlight and shadow are so pronounced. So I am going to work with the Adjustment Brush. I first applied the brush with an exposure increase over the girls. I then clicked New and used a negative exposure to darken the edges and the snow:

Brighten Underexposed Subjects in Snow Photos - Photo Editing Tutorial via iHeartFaces.com

Brighten Underexposed Subjects in Snow Photos - Photo Editing Tutorial via iHeartFaces.com

I added the slightest bit of Fill Light, under the Basic Tab:

Brighten Underexposed Subjects in Snow Photos - Photo Editing Tutorial via iHeartFaces.com

I added a bit of Sharpening, under the Detail Tab, because I know I missed focus a bit on my wiggly ladies:

Brighten Underexposed Subjects in Snow Photos - Photo Editing Tutorial via iHeartFaces.com

My final step in ACR was to add some Vignette, under the Effects Tab, which helped to further darken the edges:

Brighten Underexposed Subjects in Snow Photos - Photo Editing Tutorial via iHeartFaces.com

I am now ready to go into Photoshop CS5 with this image:

Brighten Underexposed Subjects in Snowy Photos - Photo Editing Tutorial via iHeartFaces.com

Photoshop

I want to be very careful, as I work to enhance the girls, not to blow out (more than was already done in camera) more of the snow and the sky. I love using a Curves Layer to brighten my subject, so I start there. I raise the midpoint until I like the brightness I achieve. (Remember, I am only looking at their faces right now. I will “repair” any damage to the background in the next step.) The downfall of upping the midpoint as far as I did is that the dark areas are also effected, making the faces look muddy and lacking density. So I need to bring the dark end of the curve back down.

Brighten Underexposed Subjects in Snow Photos - Photo Editing Tutorial via iHeartFaces.com

To erase the brightness added by the Curves Layer, I select the Brush Tool, ensuring I have the black color swatch showing since I am using it on a white layer mask (seen over in the Layers Palette). I chose a feathered brush at 91%, trying to avoid creating a halo effect around the girls, which would make my handiwork in PS more obvious.

Brighten Underexposed Subjects in Snow Photos - Photo Editing Tutorial via iHeartFaces.com

I also added a Levels Layer, handling it much the same way as I did the Curves Layer: work on the girls, then go back and erase it on the background areas.

Brighten Underexposed Subjects in Snow Photos - Photo Editing Tutorial via iHeartFaces.com

“After”

And we have arrived at the Final Image:

Brighten Underexposed Subjects in Snowy Photos - Photo Editing Tutorial via iHeartFaces.com

The “Before & After” Images

Editing Underexposed Subject in Snow Photography - I Heart Faces

 

Julie Rivera for iHeartFaces.comJulie Rivera, owner of Julie Rivera Photography, is an untalented but enthusiastic singer, a dedicated treadmill jogger, a mom to two young girls and one teenage boy and a pretty open blogger sharing her trials and triumphs with photography and motherhood on her blog. Be sure to follow along on Facebook, too!

Now it’s your turn!

Join us in our free Photography Community tomorrow for Fix-it Friday. At that time you will be able to download a high-res version of Julie’s fun photo, edit it in your own style, and share your results with the other members in our forum. Not a member of our I Heart Faces Community? Be sure to join today!

Would you like to be considered as an upcoming Featured Photographer in our “Before & After” photo editing series? Please contact us keeping in mind that we only consider those who include samples of their current editing and writing style and links to their blog/website. We love to feature members of our community whenever possible!

 

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Christy Harper December 14, 2012

Thanks for this, even though I don’t have snow the beach backgrounds can be bright too so this is super helpful :)

Reply

Angie Arthur December 13, 2012

Great editing tutorial for winter photos! —>RT: @iheartfaces: Brightening Underexposed Subjects in the Snow http://t.co/26rZs94Y

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Declan Mc Glone December 13, 2012

{Before & After} Brightening Underexposed Subjects in the Snow #photography http://t.co/Ow1xbhq7

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Julie Rivera December 13, 2012

I think you have things pretty well in hand, Pam, but it is kinda cool for me to think I was the source of an A-Ha moment for you! Happy Thursday from me to you! :)

Reply

Pam D December 13, 2012

Ah ha moment! I use ACR all the time now, even for my jpgs. And I’ve used the adjustment brush, but I missed the whole “new” thing. Thank you; I wish I could take a Photoshop class with you!

Reply

Abigail Stoops December 13, 2012

Awesome!

Reply

Robin T December 13, 2012

just visited her blog – LOVE LOVE LOVE it, bookmarking for future viewing!!

Reply

Claudia December 13, 2012

Great tutorial! Will come in handy very soon….hopefully.

Reply

Life with Kaishon December 13, 2012

You definitely get slack because of living in Texas for 8 years Julie! Awesome tutorial!

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