12 Replies Latest reply on Jan 2, 2018 2:22 PM by davescm

    Night photo fix


      Hey guys! Long time Photoshop user, first time poster. I am self-taught, but relatively adept at Photoshop for the pretty basic stuff.


      I have about 30 night pictures in which there is a lit location in the background, but the foreground shot is completely dark. I have tried every possible workaround to try to brighten the picture. But, it ends up looking washed out and noisy/pixelated.


      I've played around with the levels. I have followed the official tutorials, the unofficial tutorials, searched for solutions, none of which work, etc etc.


      Are there just some pictures that are beyond saving? Should I post an example of the picture?

        • 1. Re: Night photo fix
          Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

          Should I post an example of the picture?

          Yes, you should. That said - what's not there is not there. Even a Raw image only has so much dynamic range. There are no magic invisible pixels that can be recovered if the image was shot with too low exposure and this may be a hopelss cause, after all.



          • 2. Re: Night photo fix
            Trevor.Dennis Adobe Community Professional

            melynn44  wrote


            ? Should I post an example of the picture?

            Absolutely.  But you can make a start by using the Camera RAW filter, providing you are using CC.  Work on a copy of the layer.  Move the Shadow slider all the way to the right, and edge the Black slider to the left to win back the contrast, and block out the worst of the noise.

            • 3. Re: Night photo fix
              melynn44 Level 1

              I will just provide one...some are worse than others. I have gotten some of them into acceptable range; if I could get them better, that would be great. But, there are some that have been tough.



              • 4. Re: Night photo fix
                mglush Adobe Community Professional

                What tools did you use to bring up detail? You didn't mention taking it into Camera Raw--did you?


                Here is what I played with in Camera Raw--I think I pushed it a little too far, but I wanted to show you how far you can take it. I would suggest duplicating the layer, running camera raw and then masking out the background so you have the original background part of the image. Below the image are the settings I used in CR--I focused on the Basic and the Detail tabs. Like I said before, I took the photo a little further than I probably would normally--but at least it gives you an idea of what you can do in ACR.


                P1120226 copy.jpg

                Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 10.30.57 PM.png

                Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 10.31.13 PM.png


                I hope this gives you something to work with! Let me know if this helps.


                • 5. Re: Night photo fix
                  Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

                  Restoring the full image just in one swoop might not be possible, but if you can boost the foreground as illustrated, it would not be to difficult to fix something up using a few duplicated layers with different settings and a bit of basic masking.



                  • 6. Re: Night photo fix
                    melynn44 Level 1

                    Thanks so much. This is actually pretty similar to the results I have been getting through all of the other methods I have tried. There is something about it that feels blurry and noisy and unnatural.


                    I may give the multiple layers thing a try (I have tried it in 2 layers but not beyond that), just to see where it gets me. But, again, thank you so much...it looks like maybe there is not much chance of salvaging it. But, at least I know.

                    • 7. Re: Night photo fix
                      Trevor.Dennis Adobe Community Professional

                      Wow, you were not kidding when you said it was dark.  There is so little to work with, you are never going to get a really good result.  If the original is a RAW file, then you could get a much better result in ACR.  Is that the case?  I have a feeling from the resolution, that it was taken with a phone.

                      • 8. Re: Night photo fix
                        melynn44 Level 1

                        Actually no. Just a regular point and shoot digital camera. I mean, it's a nice one, and it typically does pretty good with pictures.


                        The problem was that with the flash on, the foreground was perfectly bright, but the background was not even visible. My thought was that I would just go flash-less with the pictures and edit them after the fact. I've done it before with pretty decent results. I had no idea how difficult it could be.


                        Thanks so much!

                        • 9. Re: Night photo fix
                          Trevor.Dennis Adobe Community Professional

                          Does your camera not give you independent control of ambient and flash exposure?  You say it is a 'nice' point & shoot, so it likely does.  You'd need to take it off the Green full auto setting, but even the Program setting should give you more control.  What is the make and model of your camera?


                          I never work without a decent flash on both cameras.  The EXIF for this shot says it was taken with 180mm, so I would have been a good five metres away, but even in very bright sunlight the flash has prevented the hard shadows on the runners face that would have been there without the flash.  There is every chance that your P&S can adjust the degree of flash independently from the ambient light exposure, to give exactly the balance you want.   Another reason to take it off full auto (I am sorry, I know that's an assumption) is that if your camera is capable of shooting RAW, it is unlikely to have that option with it on Auto mode.

                          • 10. Re: Night photo fix
                            davescm Adobe Community Professional


                            I agree with Trevor. A couple of passes with the camera Raw filter got this, but doing it on a Raw file rather than an 8 bit png would be better. Better still balancing flash from the camera would produce a much better result.  If you have trouble balancing flash and background with the controls on your camera then take the picture twice one of the person and one of the background then use Photoshop to composite them.



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                            • 11. Re: Night photo fix
                              Trevor.Dennis Adobe Community Professional

                              I've run the CSI Enhance plug-in on it, and got a surprising amount of additional detail.


                              • 12. Re: Night photo fix
                                davescm Adobe Community Professional

                                Ah the CSI filter....