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How to Edit an Image with Improper Exposure in Lightroom

How to Edit an Image with Improper Exposure in Lightroom

You may have seen this image on our controversial post about exposure or on our product pages for InFusion and Illuminate Presets. Now we are going to answer “how I created such a bright image and such a dark image from the same photo?”


MCP Lightroom Presets

How to take an underexposed image and pull out detail it in Lightroom: This works best with a raw file!

  1. Started by brightening with one stop of exposure via the Fix Underexposure 3 Preset  (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  2. Clicked One Click Color Base with Highlight Protection – 100% (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  3. Clicked on Lighten Up Shadow Brightener 3 (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  4. Clicked Nostalgia Preset – removed the “film” grain that the preset added in the “Effects” area of Lightroom (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  5. Clicked on Different Directions 1 (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  6. Clicked on Darken Whites 3 (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  7. Clicked on Golden Sunrays + Haze Top Right (Illuminate Lightroom Presets)
  8. When you lighten and alter a photo this much, you will get some digital noise. It’s a trade off.  Lightroom has powerful noise reduction. In my original example, since we don’t have noise removal in InFusion, I skipped it.  But for this tutorial, I clicked on Noise Reduction Medium (Enlighten Lightroom Presets)
  9. Lastly I used the Exact-o-Sharp brush over the faces to bring out some detail. (InFusion Lightroom Presets)


But what if you prefer go with the underexposure?  You can take the photo from nearly silhouette to full silhouette too. 

MCP Lightroom Presets

How to take an overexposed silhouette and make it pop in Lightroom (shown directly above):

  1. Clicked One Click Color Base with Highlight Protection – 100% (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  2. Clicked on Enchanting 3 to add toning (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  3. Clicked on Overexposure 3 to darken (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  4. Clicked on Different Directions 2 to add contrast (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  5. Painted on silhouettes with the Shade brush to darken them (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  6. Painted the balloon with the Dodge Ball brush to lighten it and bring back color and with a low flow to the clouds (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  7. To add directional streams of light, I used Golden Light Band 2 (Illuminate Lightroom Presets – this is one of the bonus presets for LR5)

And lastly, here’s a slightly different take on this image – also with a silhouette.

MCP Lightroom Presets

The only differences in this edit below is that I used Peach Parfait 3 (instead of Enchanting 3) and Golden Burst of Sunshine (instead of Golden Light Band 2).

We hope you enjoyed these step by step edits!


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  1. March 19, 2014 at 10:41 am —

    Are these same or similar edits possible in Photoshop with PS actions?

  2. March 19, 2014 at 12:47 pm —

    Yes and no… InFusion is based on the popular Fusion action set for Photoshop and Elements. The hard part when no longer on the raw file is brighting this much as you will have more artifacting and lost detail. But the tones and looks will be similar in both sets – so check out Fusion. Also look at Inspire as some looks can be achieved via that set.

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How to Edit an Image with Improper Exposure in Lightroom