How To: Split Expose an Image in Photoshop

Is one portion of your photo too dark? Bring that detail back in with this technique

Like many vast cityscapes captured at dawn or dusk, Mitch Koepp’s view of Verona, Italy, has a common earth/sky mismatch. Here, while both the ground and sky are a little too dark, it’s the ground that needs more brightening. Our goal? To improve exposure without it looking fake.

Starting with the RAW file, we made two conversions in Adobe Camera Raw. We added Contrast and Vibrance in the sky, and shifted the white balance toward yellow; for the ground, we lightened it overall, increased contrast with Curves, and added Fill Light and Clarity. We then combined the two in Adobe Photoshop CS5. For a richer sun, we cloned in yellow from elsewhere in the sky. It looks a little fake, but is less distracting. Finally, we cropped most of the tree at right.

Total time fixing: 15 minutes.

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See more of Mitch Koepp’s work at MitchKoepp.com.