How to Fix an Image with Blown-Out Highlights

Your digital camera has a built-in meter that measures the amount of light in the scene and chooses settings to serve up what the camera thinks is a properly exposed image. However, when you photograph areas that have deep shadows and bright highlights, the tonal range can be more than the camera can handle. The result: You end up with the brightest areas of a scene blown out to pure white.

When that happens, you have no detail — zip, zilch, nada. You can enable a warning that displays blown-out highlights as blinking areas of white, also known as “blinkies.” Okay, so what do you do when you see blinkies? Here are four things you can try to correct the problem:

  • Hide the sun behind a tree, or wait until a cloud covers the sun if you’re shooting directly into it.

  • Use a graduated neutral density filter to darken the sky if you’re shooting into the sun.

  • Enable exposure compensation and reduce the exposure.

  • Move away until the sun is not in your image. Often, moving a few feet will correct the problem.

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