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Adjust Levels and Lightness in HDR Images

Tone mapped high dynamic range (HDR) images don’t always come out of your favorite HDR application looking perfect. In fact, most of the time, they need further editing before they’re “perfect.” If you have brightness problems, use Levels as a good way to brighten or darken an image.

This figure shows a scene that came out of tone mapping a bit too dark. Not to worry. You don’t have to fret over problems like this in tone mapping because you have a good chance of fixing them in editing.


In Photoshop Elements, choose Enhance→Adjust Lighting→Levels to open the Levels dialog box, as shown in this figure. To lighten an image, drag the white triangle under the main histogram (the graph) to the left, as shown. To darken an image, drag the black triangle to the right. Drag the gray triangle to move midtones up (to darken) or down (to lighten).


You can achieve very similar results by using a simpler method of adjusting brightness and contrast from the Brightness/Contrast dialog box (Enhance→Adjust Lighting→Brightness and Contrast). Just use the two sliders there, as shown in this figure. The downside of this approach is that it lightens or darkens every pixel, which may or may not be what you want.

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