Recover overexposed images

Have captured multiple images and experimenting with different camera setting ? That’s good. Well, these images look good when you look through the small display in your camera but when you download the image to your computer, the image can be one of the three – normal, overexposed or underexposed. You can always check your camera histogram and make out if you have captured underexposed or overexposed images and adjust the camera accordingly to get the best photo.

Overexposed images are too bright and will make even the darkest side brighter. There is a way to fix this if you have captured this image in RAW format. You can fix even if the image is in JPEG, but the output will not be that great as JPEG images are already compressed images and will contain only 250 layers of color/ brightness where as a RAW format will contain few thousands.  In JPEG the image information is already gone as it is a compressed image and there is no way to recover the lost data in the image.

To recover overexposed images that you have captured follow the following steps:

  • Import the overexposed image to Lightroom or Photoshop using direct method or using bridge.
  • Select the image and go to ‘Developer’ mode.
  • For most of the overexposed images, histogram will have a peak to the right corner.
  • If there is a peak to the right and empty space to the left, then move the ‘Whites’ slider to the left.
  • If there is a peak to the right and the space to the left of histogram is not empty then try moving the ‘Highlights’ to the left instead of ‘Whites’.
  • Even after decreasing the ‘Highlights’ and ‘Whites’ if the histogram shows peak to the right or if the image is too bright then try to bring down the ‘Exposure’ component by moving the slider to the left.
  • To give additional effects to the dark areas, try increasing the ‘Shadows’.
overexposed images
Post processing using Lightroom
The options are almost the same in Lightroom and Photoshop. If you are using older version of Photoshop or Lightroom, then the sliders might have different name and also, the sliders. The same applies to many of the online photo editing tools. See that you try to bring the histogram peak from right corner to somewhere in the middle and not spikes to the left or right corner of the histogram.