How to Fix an Underexposed Photo in Photoshop

Have you ever taken a photo that turned out too dark and underexposed? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Luckily, there is a simple solution to fix this common photography problem using Adobe Photoshop. In this blog post, we will walk you through step-by-step on how to fix an underexposed photo in Photoshop, from adjusting exposure levels to enhancing details and colors. With the right tools and techniques, you can easily transform your dark and dull photos into vibrant and well-exposed masterpieces. So let’s dive in and learn how to bring your underexposed photos back to life!

How to Fix an Underexposed Photo in Photoshop

How to Fix an Underexposed Photo in Photoshop


Underexposed photos can be a common issue for photographers, but luckily, with the help of Photoshop, it is possible to fix them and bring out the details in the image. In this article, we will discuss step-by-step how to fix an underexposed photo in Photoshop.

Step 1: Open the Photo in Photoshop

To begin, open the underexposed photo in Photoshop by going to File > Open and selecting the image from your computer.

Step 2: Adjust Levels

Once the photo is open, navigate to Image > Adjustments > Levels. This will bring up a histogram that represents the tonal range of the image. Drag the black slider to the right to adjust the shadows and the white slider to the left to adjust the highlights. Play around with the sliders until you are satisfied with the exposure.

Step 3: Adjust Exposure

If the image is still underexposed after adjusting the levels, you can also try to adjust the exposure by going to Image > Adjustments > Exposure. Here, you can increase the exposure slider to brighten up the image. Be careful not to overdo it, as this can result in a loss of detail in the highlights.

Step 4: Use Curves

Another tool that can help fix an underexposed photo is the Curves adjustment. To access this tool, go to Image > Adjustments > Curves. You can create an S-shaped curve by dragging the shadows down and the highlights up to add contrast to the image and improve the overall exposure.

Step 5: Dodge and Burn

If there are specific areas in the photo that are still underexposed, you can use the Dodge and Burn tools to selectively lighten or darken those areas. The Dodge tool lightens areas, while the Burn tool darkens them. Use a soft brush and adjust the exposure and range settings to achieve the desired effect.

Step 6: Adjust Shadows and Highlights

For a more precise adjustment of the shadows and highlights, you can use the Shadows/Highlights adjustment tool. Go to Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights and adjust the sliders to bring out the details in the shadows and highlights of the image.

Step 7: Use Blend Modes

Experimenting with different blend modes can also help fix an underexposed photo. Create a new adjustment layer by going to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels. Then, change the blend mode of the adjustment layer to Screen or Overlay to brighten up the image.

Step 8: Add a Gradient Fill Layer

To add more depth and dimension to the image, you can create a Gradient Fill Layer. Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient Fill and choose a gradient that goes from black to transparent. Change the blend mode of the layer to Overlay or Soft Light to enhance the exposure of the photo.


Fixing an underexposed photo in Photoshop is a relatively simple process that can greatly improve the quality of your images. By following the steps outlined in this article and experimenting with different tools and adjustment layers, you can easily bring out the details in an underexposed photo and make it look more vibrant and appealing.

FAQ: How to Fix an Underexposed Photo in Photoshop

1. What does it mean for a photo to be underexposed?

When a photo is underexposed, it means that it is too dark and lacks proper exposure. This can happen if the camera settings were not adjusted properly or if the lighting conditions were poor.

2. How can I fix an underexposed photo in Photoshop?

To fix an underexposed photo in Photoshop, you can use tools like levels, curves, or exposure adjustments to brighten up the image. You can also use brightness/contrast adjustments to enhance the overall lighting and details in the photo.

3. What are some tips for fixing underexposed photos in Photoshop?

  • Adjust the exposure settings gradually to avoid overexposing the image.
  • Use the histogram tool to help you visualize and adjust the brightness levels in the photo.
  • Experiment with different adjustment layers to see which one works best for your specific photo.

4. Can I still fix an underexposed photo if it is too dark?

Yes, you can still fix an underexposed photo even if it is too dark. By using tools like shadows/highlights adjustments, you can salvage some of the details in the darker areas of the image and bring them back to life.

I hope you find useful my article How to Fix an Underexposed Photo in Photoshop, I also recommend you to read my other posts in my blog at this link.

If you need help with anything join the community or do not hesitate to contact me.

Best of luck! and follow your passion.

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