The Elements Darkroom is an easy place to work - for sure it's far
easier than back in the day when real chemicals and photographic papers
were the norm.
Anyone who worked in a wet darkroom knows just how
onerous it could be to fix an under or over exposed image.
darkroom career it was pretty much guess work and with more experience
it became easier to make an educated guess.
Luckily, this is one of the photo challenges that really is easy to
resolve with Adobe Photoshop Elements.
Early on in my digital
darkroom days I typically tried to fix an exposure problem using what
seemed to be the all powerful adjustment - Brightness Contrast.
Sadly this adjustment doesn't work particularly well.
Now I've learned many different and effective techniques that deal with exposure
problems including ...
Dodging and Burning with a Soft Light Layer and a Wacom tablet.
If you look around the site you will find most of these topics have
been covered in detail, however let's look at two Blend Modes that do a
fabulous job fixing exposure problems in your elements darkroom plus they are very easy to use, quick and really effective.
Using blend modes to fix problems is a good plan when the overall
shot is either under or over exposed.
If only one portion of a shot is too light or too dark then there are
better and more effective methods than using the blend modes - with the
best being dodging and burning.
Here's the recipe ...
exposure (overall the
picture is too dark) - change the blend mode to Screen
Over exposure (overall the picture is too light) - change the blend
mode to Multiply
There are only three simple steps to follow ...
Duplicate the Background Layer.
Change the Blend Mode of the new layer to Multiply (if the
image is too light) or Screen (if the image is too dark).
Duplicate the new layer if more adjustment is needed and
then modify the Opacity to taste.
Now this isn't really a bad over exposure but it is a bit too light for
my liking ...
Following the 3 step adjustment produces these results .
Palette Top Layer Duplicated
The picture certainly looks better. Notice that the Opacity of
the top layer (which was set to Multiply) was lowered to 71% because it
was just too dark at 100% Opacity.
When I took this picture it seems to me that there was some prohibition
in the store about using a flash - not sure about that but all the
pictures from this location in Las Vegas are far too dark.
I used the slowest shutter speed I could handhold but it was still way
under exposed. The shot of the Frontier Marshall, however, was
just too appealing to pass up and I figured I could rescue the shot in
my elements darkroom - and here it is as it was transferred to my
To arrive at an end result I was happy with required some additional
layers (set to Screen Blend Mode), a selection and a Levels Adjustment
which was clipped to the selection layer.
Palette Top Layer Duplicated
The Layer Marshall 1 is the Background layer copied and the Blend Mode
changed to Screen.
Marshall 2 and Marshall 3 are copies of Marshall 1 so their Blend Mode
is also Screen.
The Marshall Selection was just the Marshall selected with the
Selection Brush and promoted to its own layer. A Levels
Adjustment Layer was added to the top of the stock and then clipped to
Marshall Selection so just the Marshall is brightened.
There is one more layer at the top of the stack (it's not
visible). On this layer I painted black over the bright
highlights of the lighting in the store that was still showing through.
The only other thing I considered was adding some lighting effects
after flattening the image. Here's the result using Filter > Render > Lighting Effects
> Omni ...
It's amazing how much fun you can have rescuing a prized shot your
thought was a lost cause just by using just a couple of different Blend
The video demonstrates the use of the Screen Blend Mode as well as some
dodging and burning and Layer Masks. The dodge and burn and masks
are included because these techniques do not work in isolation - the
best results are achieved when a couple of different techniques are
Screen Blend Mode plus Some Dodging and Burning and Layer Masks