Chapter 6. Adjusting Brightness and Contrast

Fine-tuning a photo's overall brightness and contrast is the first step to improving it. That's because even well-exposed photos look better with some simple tonal adjustment. Sometimes these adjustments are large, making the photo look like a completely different image, and other times they're only minor tweaks. If a photo is important to you, check to see if you can improve it with one or more of the tonal adjustment tools covered in this chapter.

Turning Off In-Camera Contrast Settings

Many digital cameras have various settings that enable you to change the way the camera's sensor records images. Quite often, one of these settings enables you to increase the contrast of every photo the camera captures. Using a setting like this may help with some images, but not all of them.

Additionally, when contrast is added during image capture, it's sometimes difficult to remove when it isn't needed. Because of that, I strongly urge you to turn off any contrast settings in your camera. It's always easier to add contrast than it is to compensate for excessive contrast. The same is true for most other settings, such as sharpening. You can always add sharpening to a photo, but it's hard to remove it if it's overdone during the image capture process.

If you're shooting in the raw mode, these settings don't affect the raw file in the same permanent way they affect JPEG files; so it isn't necessary to turn them off, though I recommend you do in case you ...

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