I remember the first time I used manual mode in DSLR  camera, many were captured as underexposed photos (low light/ dark image) or overexposed (more light/ white image). But luckily I had captured these images in RAW (.NEF in Nikon) format and not JPEG.

Note that there is difference in capturing images in RAW and JPEG formats. It’s good to capture images in RAW format even though it takes more memory. The reason is images captured in RAW format can be edited (post processing) using photo editing tools like Lightroom or Photoshop, the way you want to and this is not the case with JPEG images. RAW files will contain all the information and JPEG files are compressed formats of the same image. When the image is compressed there is loss of information or data and there is no way to recover the lost data in the image by these image editors.

If you have captured an image which is in RAW format and is underexposed then you can easily edit it using Photoshop and you can recover the photo by retrieving the hidden information in the photo. Follow the following steps to recover an under exposed photos:

  • Import the photo to Lightroom or Photoshop directly or using bridge.
  • Goto developer module so that you can edit your image.
  • For an underexposed photo, the histogram (grey) or the graph will have a huge spike to the left.
  • Try moving this spike to center and the height of the spike will also reduce by moving the “Blacks” slider to the right.
  • Now try increasing the “Shadows” (by moving the slider to the right).
  • If you still see a spike then try increasing the “Exposure” (by moving the slider to the right).

Underexposed imageThese three will help you in recovering an underexposed image. The effects will be more visible and will be good if you are editing RAW underexposed image as it has all the information needed while editing. Editing a JPEG underexposed image might not give you very good results and also because there is less color information in it. When you edit, look at the image and also the histogram. There is no specific number while moving these sliders and it depends on the image.

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