Save those less-than-perfect photos with the use of Levels.
I took this photo of my dog, Stella with my cell phone, with the light directly behind her.
Let’s try to rescue this photo using a Levels Adjustment in Photoshop.
Step 1: Open Levels
In Photoshop Elements: In Expert Mode, in the Menu bar, go to Enhance / Adjust Lighting / Levels
In Photoshop: In the Menu bar: Image / Adjustments / Levels
Step 2: Set the White and Black Points
Our first goal is to reveal more detail in both the darker and lighter areas of the image, then we will adjust the mid-tones.
- Click on the white eyedropper to select it, and then click on the photo at the brightest, whitest spot you see.
- Click on the black eyedropper to select it, and then click on the photo at the darkest, blackest spot you see.
I clicked on the really light, white part of the fur on Stella’s hair, and on the black of her eye.
Tip: If you don’t like the result you get, you can keep clicking on the image until you find a result that you like.
Step 3: Set the Midtones.
That definitely looks better than the original image, but now let’s adjust the mid-tones. We do this by adjusting the middle slider in the Input Levels. Move the slider to the left to make the mid-tones lighter, and to the right to make them darker. By moving the mid-tone slider to the left just a bit, I was able to get an even better result. The amount you need to move the mid-tone slider will depend upon the lightness / darkness of your photo.
This is my result after adjusting the mid-tones.
I hope you find this helpful and that it is a technique that will help you rescue photos that you thought were hopeless.