How can I brighten foregrounds?

I have been following your magazine’s tip to include foreground interest in my landscapes, and managed to find this statue situated in front of a river. However, it kept coming out really dark. How can I make it brighter?

Clark Brooker, yia Facebook

Getting the foreground and background of your photos properly exposed can be difficult, especially in tricky lighting conditions. If the sun is behind your main foreground subject then it can often appear underexposed, yet if you try to expose for the foreground you run the risk of the background being overexposed.

Correct the exposure

Bring out the details Lost in the shadows of your backlit shot using Photoshop Elements

01 Lighten shadows

Go to Enhance>Lighting> Shadows/Highlights and adjust the Lighten Shadows slider until details appear. But don’t move it too high, as you will blow out the background.

02 Brighten the detail

Select the Dodge tool and set Highlights as the Range. Choose a low exposure percentage and adjust the size of your brush, then drag your cursor over the problem areas.

03 Adjust the Levels

Go to Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Levels and select the black dropper tool. Click on a black area of your photo and this will correct the levels. You can also do this manually.

04 Control the Curves

Next, go to Enhance>Adjust Color>Adjust Color Curves. Choose Backlight from the Select A Style box and increase the Midtone Brightness and Midtone Contrast sliders.


Dark foreground

The statue in the foreground is backlit and therefore in shadow, causing it to appear dark in our reader’s photo

Dull background

Due to the contrasting lighting conditions, the camera hasn’t evenly exposed the shot, leaving the background dull

Lost detail

Because the statue is underexposed, some of the detail is lost in the shadows, making it look a little flat

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