Photoshop Tip: Up and Down a Stop

So you have a wizbang camera with super dynamic range, but it keeps under exposing things. Ok it isn’t the camera’s fault it’s yours. Looks OK on the camera’s LCD, but when you open it in Photoshop it’s too dark. What to do?

To raise an image a stop do the following.

  1. Select a dark layer.
  2. Duplicate the layer by dragging it to the new layer icon at the bottom of the layers palette.
  3. Set the blend mode popup in the layers palette to Screen

Boom you’ve gone up a stop. And guess what it works over and over to bring things up another stop. There is a point where the image starts to degrade, so do try to get within a stop when you shoot.

To lower use Multiply instead of Screen.

Don’t want a full stop, but only a half? Use the Opacity of the layer to fade it to 50%.

One draw back of this is you just duplicated your layer and made your image megabytes larger. Here’s a variation that works in some cases.

Instead of duplicating the layer create a levels or curves layer instead. When the dialog pops up, just click OK, making no changes. Then set it to screen. Works just like above, but these levels take up no more space.

The drawback is you can’t edit in these layers. Which means if you do this first, which is common, you can’t then click in the layer and start healing. You have to make a merge layer and edit it. Which adds another layer anyway.

There’s a tip for today.

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