Editing Photos – Lighting Levels

Light Levels before/after

In the blog Photo Editing Why I referred to a number of types of photo editing. In this blog I hope to give you some insights into
1. Lighting Levels.

Lighting levels are simply the amount of light that was reflected from the subject and was captured by the camera. Different areas of the photo have different lighting levels (different tones).

It is very beneficial to adjust each lighting level separately.
There are dark areas, midtones (medium lit) and highlights (light areas). There are tones everywhere in between but this is easier to work with.  Note that some software refers to about five different levels (such as Lightroom or PhotoDirector).  Other simplified software such as PhotoScape or smartphone software tends to deal with levels all at once. This could be explained as editing the whole exposure.

There are an assortment of terms used to refer to editing lighting levels in different software. This can make it very confusing. The challenge is to know which light levels you are changing when you adjust them.

Some of the terms used:

  • Highlights – brightest lit areas
  • A blown out image – large highlight areas that are nearly completely white.
  • Dark areas – shadows
  • Fill light – added light that brightens the dark areas.
  • Luminance – the amount of light per area.
  • Contrast – the difference in the brightness and colour in an image
  • Bloom – a glow, can be added to an image
  • Backlight – light/highlight that comes from behind the subject
  • Exposure – adjusts all levels of light in the photo
  • Brightness – adjusts the mid levels more and preserves the highlights
Editing Light Levels

Editing Light Levels

If you are trying to see what you are changing in a photo by altering each setting only alter one setting at a time and reset the photo back to where you started before altering another setting. Then later you can alter multiple settings on the same photo knowing what you are changing with each setting.
As usual “Save as” when you save a photo and don’t overwrite your original. You can come back to the original and start again if you want a different result.

Click on the image with trees on the left and zoom in to take a closer look at the results of editing in PhotoScape and PhotoDirector.
There is more editing control available in PhotoDirector than PhotoScape and with some practice a lot better result can be obtained but PhotoScape is free.

Related blogs:
Photo Editing – why, and what I can start on?
How to install the free PhotoScape Software

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