How to lighten a dark photo

I bet you have dark photos in your family albums or online photo collections. Usually images taken with digital cameras in an automatic mode come out too dark or too bright. All photo editing programs can brighten images no matter whether it is a desktop application, a web app or professional boxed photo software.

Ways to add light to images

1. Brightness/Contrast

There are several ways to recover the color of underexposed images. The easiest means is to adjust brightness/contrast.

Applying Brightness

2. Color Balance

Another method is to experiment with a range of colors. For example, changing saturation and hues you can increase or decrease the color intensity of your image.

Adjusting Saturation

3. Dodge & Burn Brushes

It is also possible to lighten a dusky photo using Dodge and Burn brushes with which Sagelight Image Editor and Gimp are equipped.

Applying Dodge Brush

4. Curves or Levels

Adobe Photoshop offers Curves and Levels to adjust lightless photos. We advise you to read a step-by-step tutorial made by Ellen Brundige here.

5. Fill Light Option

Picasa restores image color thanks to the fill light slider. Just drag it to the right until you get the needed result. Unfortunately if the photo is so dark that shot objects can hardly be viewed the fill-light effect won’t play a trick. The photo will turn grainy with a loss of original quality.

Applying Fill Light

Web apps to illuminate darkish pictures

Web applications have a full set of color tuning tools. For example, BeFunky offers exposure, saturation/hue and vibrance tweaking, fill light slider, color filter at your disposal. Pixrl can lighten pictures not only with color balance enhancement but using curves and levels.

Adjusting Exposure

As you can see there are many methods to add light to your dim images. They vary in complexity. In most cases you have to drag sliders until you are satisfied with the effect. However sometimes color recovery becomes a tiresome process that includes multiple steps.

Try all methods to improve poorly lit photos and choose one that suits you most of all. We also invite you to share your experience with us!

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