Have you ever screwed up the exposure or white balance of your photo? If you shoot RAW you are in luck!
While you may not want to admit it, every photographer has been there. Maybe you were shooting manually and forgot to change the settings when you switched locations… Maybe you metered incorrectly? Maybe you are on auto and your camera guessed wrong? Or maybe you just messed up! You may have grabbed your camera to snap a shot of your child – and your choice was change your camera settings and miss it or just click – click – click and worry later.
Sound familiar? No need to answer in case you would be embarrassed. Seriously, I promise this happens to everyone, including me. 99.9% of the time those photos just get deleted later because I usually catch my mistake as I chimp (check the back of the camera) and readjust. If you find that you are correcting every photo with strong adjustments to fix mistakes, you may want to revisit your camera, read more, and practice.
But on the off chance you mess up on a rare occasion and need to save an image, here are 3 tips.
- Shoot RAW. I cannot say this enough times. I don’t care if you do. I will not make you shoot RAW, but on the off chance you need to “fix” bad color or exposure, RAW is by far the best choice.
- Use Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw. Or another powerful raw editor, like Aperture. Do not try and “fix” these severe issues in Photoshop or Elements. You need the control of one of these software programs.
- Learn about white balance correction and exposure. Gain an understanding of the white balance tools and sliders, exposure, fill light, and recovery sliders in your editing program.
The other day while in Downtown Detroit, I begged my twins to let me snap a few pictures of them against the mostly torn down building featured in the Chrysler commercials. They finally gave in, and I snapped this before adjusting my settings. If I was not demonstrating a point, I would just delete this and use the next one I shot that was exposed correctly and not crooked either… But… I wanted to show you the power of RAW!
The following image has more things wrong than right. It is many stops underexposed, you cannot see the subjects, and it is on a horrible angle. What’s right? My kids are in it. I love the backdrop of the 1-sided building, and the sky is decent, but at the expense of the rest of the image.
So first I tried a color edit. I did not love it – the sky was blown out from increasing exposure and my other images I took after this one are significantly better. I only saved it to share here. When you find a photo extremely underexposed, and you fix it, you get a lot of grain and artifacts. Lightroom’s noise reduction algorithms are good, but may not work miracles. Steps: The photo below was cropped. Then I used Quick Click Collection Presets: “Add 2 Stops” to fix exposure and “Daylight and Sunshine” for white balance. Them I used “Silence the Noise Medium” and “Fill Light Medium.”
I decided to scratch the color play and try a black and white. My steps using Quick Clicks Collection presets were as follows: “Add 1-Stop” to adjust exposure, then “Sundae Dish” to convert to black and white. Next I clicked “Fill Flash Full” as the dark shadows needed to be lightened a lot. Finally I added the ice cream tone “French Vanilla” and finished with “Silence the Noise Medium.” Besides the cropping, it took five instant clicks to go from the before to the after shown below…