Photo editing masterclass: How to lighten an image

Photo Editing Masterclass - Howard Mason Amateur Photographer

Photoshop guru Martin Evening sorts out your photo-editing and post-processing problems. Here he discusses how to lighten an image


Before Amateur Photographer

Cuba has long been a favourite location for photographers and access has become easier for US citizens recently. For visitors, one of the most charming aspects of the country’s life are the pre-1959 cars that have been skilfully maintained all these years. They’ll probably begin to disappear over the coming years as Cuba relaxes its rules on new car imports, so if you want to photograph them, get over there while you can. This photograph by Howard Mason captures Cuban street life, with a close-up view of a glorious old Pontiac.

After Amateur Photographer
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1. Lighten the exposure

For the first step I lightened the photograph by setting the Exposure slider to +1.10. I then applied a +100 Shadows adjustment to lighten the shadows, and set Clarity to +68 to add sparkle to the car’s bright-blue bodywork and Vibrance to +63 to boost the colour saturation.

2. Crop and add contrast

Here, I applied a Guided Upright correction to straighten the street buildings on the right only. In addition, I applied a cinematic crop, removing the empty space at the bottom of the picture. I then went to the Tone Curve panel to add a contrast kick to the shadows.

3. Add a colour Split Tone

The exposure lightening adjustment in Step 1 caused the sky highlight detail to become blown out. Here, I applied a Radial filter that darkened the top and top-right section, applying negative Exposure, Contrast and Highlights. Finally, I added a Split Toning effect to colourise the image.

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