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Saturday, September 3, 2011

{ Photoshop & Lightroom Editing -- Saving What Was Lost } -- Mesa, AZ Photographer

{ Can This Picture Be Saved? }

Everytime I approach a photo that's under or overexposed, I ask myself the question, "Can I actually salvage and save this photo?" In the case of the picture above, I was a guest at my cousin's wedding in California. The wedding scene took place near the ocean on top of a beautiful hillside golfcourse and the sun pouring in from behind was in the direct west, meaning a very brightly lit area that was going to shadow anything on the backside of it. { Thus a big reason why the Bride's parents are so poorly lit and underexposed in the picture on the left }

Because I wasn't my cousin's photographer, I did not want to fire my flash and get in the way of the photographer that they had hired for their event, so I shot without a flash. This worked great for the photos that I was able to capture from the back sides of the aisle, but was a nightmare for these shots as they were filing out of the venue. I had originally passed by these photos because I thought they were not salvageable. I thought there was no way to rescue them.

But I love a good challenge!!!!

Thankfully, I shot in RAW, so there was a lot more color information to work with in the first place. I uploaded first to Lightroom 3 and then to Photoshop CS4. Most of this lightening and brightening came in Lightroom 3 though and I'll share how.

Once doing basic edits for color balance and getting skin tones warmed up and a little vignetting set in place, I used these sliders in Lightroom 3:

Fill Light


I then used the Adjustment Brush set to Lightening and lit my picture little by little in the places I need to light and darkened in the places I needed to darken. I then exported to Photoshop CS4 and targeted more areas by lassoing and feathering them and then adjusting the Curves. I ran unsharp mask on the entire photo and then blurred out the background so that the focus was more on the Bride's parents and not the hussle of what was going on behind them.

This is the BEFORE shot:

And this is the AFTER { post Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS4 } :

Voila! I love seeing the Before and After magic that happens when photo editing in post-production. It's like taking something tarnished and covered in soot and bringing out it's beauty. When I was a kid, I used to love helping my Dad polish the tarnished brass pieces we had and it's kind of like the same thing when editing in Photoshop and Lightroom--I get to unearth the beauty that lies deep within a picture, covered by layers of darkness.

SO why I love being a photographer and a photo editor!! : )


  1. Wow. I did not know it was possible to rescue pics this way. I will be looking into this in more depth now. I am the photographer for my company (just because I have a camera, not for any inate skill)and have quite a few photos that could use rescuing, so thanks for sharing. Two questions. One, can this be done using Ps Elements 8? And two, how important is it to shoot in RAW?

  2. Yes, it is totally possible with some Photoshop and Lightroom magic! ; ) You should be able to accomplish a good portion of this with PS Elements 8. I am a huge fan of shooting in RAW because there's so much more information to work with in a picture. I'll post something on my new blog soon that shows the difference between JPEG and RAW. My new blog address is: