Stupidly Simple steps to fix Underexposure.

Or How to get Snow White.

The North wind doth blow, and we shall have snow.

Have you taken some snow shots recently? Have they turned out dull and grey?

Have you seen a vision in sparkly white but ended up with dull, boring and flat?

There is an easy way to fix that in a Photo Editor and a simple trick to get it right next time you are out your camera.

The problem arises because of the way your camera reads the scene. It’s set up for what is known as 15% grey. That’s a measure of the tones across the image.

For certain scenes, such as snow, the camera doesn’t know the overall scene is bright and white and exposes it to record as 15% grey. Consequently it underexposes the shot.

We can easily fix this in just a couple of minutes even if you are completely new to photo editing.

Dramatically underexposed!

This is a shot I took with the camera on it’s usual settings and no exposure compensation dialled in. It’s horribly underexposed.

But all is not lost. The RAW image I have taken has a lot information in it that can be released with one super quick adjustment.

Adjustment Panel Indicated

Opening the file in the photo editor brings up a couple of panels in the right hand column, one of which is Add an Adjustment. If it isn’t there got Image in the top line menu then adjustments. In either case choose levels. Levels has an icon that looks like a little bar chart in the side panel.

Histogram for Levels Adjustment.

This will bring up the levels dialogue box on your screen. As you can see in the screen shot above, the histogram finishes a long way before the end of the graph space. I will need to move the white marker to meet the white area as indicated by the arrow.

White slider moved to the left.

In many cases this will be enough to remedy the shot, especially if you are shooting a landscape. Here, however, the mid tones are still too dark. To adjust this, move the grey slider to the left as well.

Improved mid tones and we are nearly finished.

This photo needs a bit of extra help still so I added brightness to raise the highlights further. That is again found under “add an adjustment” and is the first icon in the box.

Completed image.

Getting it Right in Camera.

Getting this right in camera is completely straightforward. You need to tell the camera to expose more than it thinks it should. The way to do that is to add positive exposure compensation. Now every camera is slightly different so if you don’t know how to do this just consult your manual.

Take a shot and check your histogram. If it still doesn’t show white areas over the whole graph, dial in a bit more compensation.

Over to You.

Now it’s just time to get out with your camera and get some super light, bright snow scenes. In the UK there may well be a few more days of snowy weather so I’ll be hoping for some sunshine to do the same.

Don’t forget to wrap up warm and keep your camera protected.

Have fun shooting :-)

Award winning Artist and Photographer still learning and evolving. Blogging the journey.

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