How to Brighten-Up an Underexposed Image in Photoshop
On this short and basic video, Jan Kabili from Adobe takes a look at how to brighten up an image using the levels tool in Photoshop.
The first step is to add a new fill or adjustment layer and choose Levels. Kabili suggests that in order to brighten and add contrast to our image we need to go into the Properties panel, drag the white slider directly under the histogram to the left to set the very lightest tones in the photo to white. You can also use the Option-drag (MacOS) or Alt-drag (Windows) and you’ll see a mask view that can help you evaluate how far to drag by revealing which areas will become pure white without detail.
Next, you should drag the gray slider to the left to brighten the midtones and the black slider slightly to the right to set the darkest tones to black (this will help with the contrast of the image).
So far we affected the entire image – in order to affect specific areas we need to select the Brush tool and set black as the Foreground color in the toolbar. We can now paint where we want to brighten the image (if you want to go back – just paint with white).
That is it – pretty basic stuff but it is important and very useful in many situations.
This is not the first time we are looking at how to brighten a somewhat dark image using Photoshop. A while back we published a video by photoshop expert Howard Pinsky on this very subject entitled “Quick Ways to Brighten Up Dark Images in Photoshop” as well as a video Aaron Nace from Phlearn who published “Brighten Portraits in 2 Minutes in Photoshop“.