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How Pro Photographers Fix Bad Lighting in Adobe Photoshop

Last Updated on November 1, 2020 by Devaun Lennox

In today’s video I’m going to show you guys in Adobe Photoshop how to fix uneven skin tones and bad and poopy lighting alright

So here we are in Adobe Photoshop that the photos loaded up I am using Photoshop CC 2017 I’m gonna be editing this photo right with my Wacom tablet I’m using the Intuos it’s the medium-sized one so I will have some shortcut keys that are programmed on the Wacom tablet so you guys I’ll refer to those as we kind of go along but let’s kind of open up Photoshop here and I will show you guys what I’m referring to so this is the original image and then this is the after so essentially when I say fixing batter and poopy lighting we referring to really just fixing

those the uneven differences that happen when you don’t really light your subject properly and unfortunately I didn’t really like this properly I was still learning lighting and things that nature at this time and now to say that I’ve stopped or anything like that now I’m getting better but I have a long way to go but ultimately I was a lot worse than what I am now so you know this is pretty bad to be fair I had a lot of work to do to fix this but essentially what I’m gonna show you guys is how to to fix those uneven uneven that uneven light to get a better I guess starting

point or a better working point so that you can retouch and you can actually then do add additional techniques on so we’re gonna be doing that right now obviously in Photoshop but we’re gonna be doing that with curves so let’s go to our background layer first things first we’re gonna go down here and we’re going to do a new curves adjustment layer and we’re gonna set a middle point here a little point and we’re gonna move that up slightly to not quite in the middle I do maybe about a third of the way through so somewhere around there and what we’re

gonna do is go back to our layers I’m actually going to delete that layer right there so let me move my Wacom tablet I’m going to delete this oh sorry I don’t even need to do I’m actually gonna right-click on the adjustment layer delete layer mask and then we’re gonna hit the alt or option key and we’re going to hit the mask so that it comes up clear the next thing we’re gonna do is go up to our blend modes and we’re gonna make sure that is set to Lumosity the reason why I’m changing it to Lumosity as opposed to normal is because if you have it on a lot of

these other blend modes they actually change the saturation contrast and they change sometimes they change the color as well so I just wanted to specifically only change the lighting I don’t want it to change anything else about the color I don’t want to change anything about the contrast I want to leave all that stuff the same so with that that’s why I’m using Lumosity because Lumosity only expected effects exposure and it doesn’t affect contrast and saturation and things of that nature the next thing that we’re gonna do is we’re going to right click on this

we’re gonna actually duplicate this layer so duplicate layer and we can just leave it this is gonna be the same practice principles principles before but we’re gonna actually go in the opposite direction to about right here these values don’t need to be exact so don’t worry about the actual values that are there play around with it as you apply this technique if you’re gonna use this technique to your own specific images next thing that we’re gonna do is we’re gonna hit our layer mask here I’m gonna press B for our brush tool alright and get to our brush tool and

then we are going to go up here to our brushes by default you guys are gonna get something like this 600 or whatever the size is it’s gonna be a hard brush or what I’m gonna have you guys do is just move over move over to this one right here essentially what it does is just reduces the hard disk from 100% to zero we don’t want it to be a very hard brush because we’re gonna have very fairly hard and jagged lines and when you’re doing this technique it’s not going to be smooth gradiation so you really don’t want that the next thing we’re gonna do it’s kind of

well I’m assuming a little bit I won’t sumit too much we’re gonna go onto our curves make sure this is set to white which it is and we’re gonna use a slightly of rather large big brush and then we’re just going to brush were gently doing gentle strokes the areas that we want to increase in brightness you’ll just kind of see me just kind of paint little by little here I’m just doing very light gentle strokes on the Wacom tablet and just fixing that okay open up that kind of fix that and then open up down here and right there one thing I forgot to mention with this I changed

the opacity by defaults gonna be 100% I changed it to basically a quarter of that so 20 I did 22 but 25% is perfect and then we’re gonna just I’m gonna use the hand tool on my Wacom tablet and just kind of move down and we’ll kind of open up the shadows a little bit on our arms as well main thing I do when it fixes the the right side of her body just has a lot of unevenness so all right so that opens up let’s do before and after that opens up the shadows and you notice that the colors don’t change the only only thing that really changes exposure though I did

paint over her eye so our eyes to get a little bit lighter on that side so I’d have to go back in and just erase that essentially which I guess I can do right now actually just go use it for the eraser tool and we’ll just paint right in so her eyes maintain that same amount of punch same thing with the eyebrows – I don’t want an eye brows – good and lips if I have one over the lips okay a little bit underneath that you don’t want that whole area to be adjusted okay next thing we’re gonna do we’re gonna go back over to our shadows that are opposite layer go back to our

brush tool still painting with that same brushes before 22 percent opacity the same soft brush that I showed you guys before and now we’re going to paint the areas that we think are too bright and same principles before very like large and gentle brush strokes the hands are what really need it so and you’ll notice that I keep the brush rather large the entire time and I just do small gentle brush strokes and then you guys can see the before and after there this layer is also set to Lumosity that’s part of reason why I duplicated that before so this is nice and even

okay now what I’m gonna do I’m gonna group these two by holding shift and then clicking going down here to group I’m gonna apply one more one more curves layer so we’re gonna go back down here curves and then we’re gonna do one more brightness layer okay and then right click on the layer mask to delete that and then option or alt and we’re gonna make that black and then this is gonna be the final layer to just further increase our our brightness a little bit I just do this in stages little by little I’ll add multiple layers of curves depending on how bright I

want certain areas to be and essentially you just kind of go back and forth as opposed to just doing it really hard on just those two layers alone I go I just do it in stages okay so something sort of like that will give us a much better starting point and then now I can show you guys the before and after yeah it’s pretty big difference but this is essentially what you do you just go back and forth with those curves the curves layers or you can duplicate them or or just start new curves layers it’s up to you but essentially you just go back and forth there and then you can

re relight your subject so really you can change the lighting completely to whatever that you want if you want to accentuate those shadows you can go ahead and do that for me I kind of like a little bit more even lighting if I’m doing something like this I want it to be fun and airy I don’t want it to be like really hardened and really dark and moody that’s not really that the purpose of this image although I ended up shooting it that way too which was my own mistake but this is really the the technique that like professional level photographers are using if they make a

mistake on set and the lighting wasn’t the way that they wanted this is how we’re getting that perfect artificial light and Dobby Photoshop or affinity photo we’re just kind of painting it in honestly just by using curves and there’s a couple of the techniques but we’re painting it in is what we’re doing so it doesn’t always look perfect it’s not always shot perfectly we do make mistakes obviously but ultimately we use these techniques to kind of supplement our technique onset because sometimes you know the model are moving and stuff like that and they move

out of the light and maybe you had it measured or whatever is very specific and they move it out of that and you got a weird or wonky result but this is how you can pretty much guarantee that you can fix it because you can change the lighting to whatever you guys want so I hope this video added some value you guys I hope you learned something from this technique this was game-changing when I when I ultimately discover this so I definitely hope it benefits you guys able to definitely give you a little bit more flexibility when you’re shooting so you don’t

have to always be so obsessed about the lighting lighting is important you want to make sure you get it right in camera makes your life a lot easier but if you don’t you can’t fix it so I want to give you guys confidence in doing that you know if you’re new here please consider subscribing if you haven’t already leave us a like and a comment in description down below let me know if I’m missing anything let me know if you have any questions or a specific video that you would like to see let’s start that discussion we’re always in our comments so and now until next time my friend peace out

Photo of author

Devaun Lennox

I'm a fashion, beauty, and commercial photographer turned impromptu photojournalist. Based in Las Vegas, my images are graphic, bold, and full-on contrast.