How to Edit Overexposed Photos in Lightroom

How to Edit Overexposed Photos in Lightroom

Hey there! So I’ve been getting a few questions on how I edit my photos and I thought, hey why not create a tutorial??

 

Right off the bat, I edit using Adobe Lightroom Creative Cloud on my laptop. I first started using this program back in 2010? I can’t remember, I just know that I’ve been using it forever.

 

I kind of just tinkered with it and it took a lot of trial and error until I finally felt comfortable enough to know what I was doing.

Okay so before we begin, here’s what we’ll need:

 

#1 Adobe Lightroom for your computer (you can install a free trial here)

#2 An overexposed 16-bit RAW image (I’ll explain why in a bit)

There are two methods to properly editing an overexposed image and I will go over both, so just sit tight.

How to Edit Overexposed Photos in Lightroom | Here & Air

Method 1:

 

1.1 OPEN LIGHTROOM

This part is pretty self explanatory. If you don’t have a copy of Adobe Lightroom you can install free trial here.

1.2 SELECT AN IMAGE FROM YOUR LIBRARY

 

Make sure that you are choosing a 16-bit RAW overexposed image. The reason for this is because RAW files contain more detail and information in a picture. It makes it easier for us to recover details in an overexposed photo.

 

If you don’t have an image in your library, simply select import and select an image you’d like to use.
How to Edit Overexposed Images in Lightroom | Here & Air

1.3 GO INTO THE DEVELOP TAB

→ Now that you have an image you’d like to edit, go into the develop tab. This is where the magic happens.

1.4 CREATE VIRTUAL COPY

→ Right click your image and click ‘Create Virtual Copy’.

1.5 DECREASE EXPOSURE

→ Now with the virtual copy selected, decrease the exposure in the tone panel on the right.

Do this until you start to get detail back in the overexposed areas. Don’t worry about the image being too dark at the moment. We will fix this!

1.6 MERGE INTO HDR
I know what you’re thinking. “HDR? I don’t want my photos looking too contrasted and saturated!” I thought the same thing when I first learned this method.  Again, not to worry, your photo is in good hands. 

 

All this is doing is taking the highlights, midtones, and shadow information of both images and combining it into one to create a perfect balance.

 

→ Do this by selecting both images (command + click on mac and ctrl + click on pc)
 
→ Right click
 
→ Photo Merge
 
→ Click HDR
 
→ Click Merge
 
Once it loads, hit Merge and voila! You’ve got a correctly exposed image.

 

How to Edited Overexposed Images in Lightroom | Here & Air

Now if you are using a preset, I usually like to load it before I start editing.

How to Edited Overexposed Images in Lightroom | Here & Air

Here I used a preset I created that will be a part of the Desert Child Preset Pack, available for purchase soon. In the meantime, download a freebie!

 
Sometimes this doesn’t work the way you want it to. There’s a second method that will allow you to edit manually.

FREE LIGHTROOM PRESET

MOROCCO PRESET

Morocco Preset will bring back those overexposed skies and will give your photos pretty blue hues.

Method 2:

 

Begin by repeating steps 1-3 above if you haven’t done so already

 

2.1 OPEN LIGHTROOM
2.2 SELECT A 16-BIT RAW IMAGE FROM YOUR LIBRARY
2.3 GO INTO THE DEVELOP TAB

 

2.4 PLAY AROUND WITH THE TONE SETTINGS

 

Every photo is different, so you have to play around with the settings until you get it to how you want.

 

→ Decrease exposure

 

→ Decrease highlights

 

→ Increase Dehaze (very little is alll it takes)

 

→ Increase Shadows bring back light to dark areas
 
 I decided to add in a preset that I’ve created, Terra Cotta. You can download a free sample here.
If your image still lacks detail in certain areas, follow the next steps below:

*Optional

 

2.5 USE THE ADJUSTMENT BRUSH

 

This is my favorite tool because it gives you control over the smallest details.

 

→ Select the Adjustment Brush

 

→ Select ‘Highlights’ in Dropdown

 

→ Select ‘Show Selected Mask Overlay’

 

The mask overlay is a guide that will help you see where you will be painting over with the adjustment brush.

 

→ Paint over areas you want to bring back details to.

 

If you accidentally go over unwanted areas, it’s okay. Just hold down the option key (or ctrl for pc) and erase. If the brush is too big, adjust the size to your liking.

2.6 ADJUST HIGHLIGHTS, DEHAZE, ETC.

 

Once you’ve painted over the area you want to adjust,

 

→ Deselect ‘Show Selected Mask Overlay’ so you can see what you’re adjusting

 

→ Decrease ‘Highlights’

 

→ Increase ‘Dehaze’ ever so slightly. You don’t want to overdo this because it’ll look unnatural.

 

→ (Optional) Sometimes I like to add a tint of color especially to skies (usually a subtle blue) to make it look less exposed.

How to Edited Overexposed Images in Lightroom | Here & Air

How to Edited Overexposed Images in Lightroom | Here & Air

FREE LIGHTROOM PRESET

MOROCCO PRESET

Morocco Preset will bring back those overexposed skies and will give your photos pretty blue hues.

Best Practices for Preventing Overexposed Images

Taking overexposed images is sometimes inevitable, but there are things you can do to help prevent it.

Remember it’s always better to underexpose than to overexpose. This is because when you overexpose, you tend to lose a lot of the detail and it’s harder to bring back

Center the light meter on your camera in order to take a properly balanced exposure. When you are more comfortable and know what you’re doing, it doesn’t always need to be smack dab in the middle, but it’s a good place to start.

Consider using gradual density or neutral density filters

Shoot in RAW just in case

Watch your camera’s histogram

Use a diffuser

Try to shoot during times when the light isn’t too harsh, usually around golden hour, sunset, or sunrise

These are just methods that I use. There are different ways to go about doing it. I’d love to know what you do. Do you have a different method? Let me know by commenting down below! Or show me your edited images, I’d love to see them!

 

Good luck!

 

Love & Light,

 

Carmelisse

PIN IT FOR LATER:

How to Edit Overexposed Images in Lightroom | Here & Air

FREE LIGHTROOM PRESET

Morocco-sample-preset

The Morocco Preset creates the perfect dreamy blue hues and is great for bringing back overexposed skies. Sign up to get instant access now!

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