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Chapter 4. Editing Photos > Adjusting Brightness and Contrast

Adjusting Brightness and Contrast

Digital cameras often make mistakes with brightness and contrast, so iPhoto provides controls for adjusting these settings after the fact. Adjusting the brightness of the photo makes the entire image lighter or darker, whereas adjusting the contrast changes the degree of difference between light and dark areas of the image.

To adjust the brightness:

  • In edit mode, drag the top slider left to decrease or right to increase the brightness of the image (Figure 4.24 and Figure 4.25).

    Figure 4.24. This picture is too dark, because of the bright snow outside the door. You can barely see Tristan’s face at all.

    Figure 4.25. Increasing the brightness all the way washes out the background entirely, but restores details to Tristan and to the door at his back. It’s still a lousy photo, and if I wasn’t using it to show off the brightness control, I’d just delete it.

To adjust the contrast:

  • In edit mode, drag the bottom slider left to decrease or right to increase the contrast of the image (Figure 4.26 and Figure 4.27).

    Figure 4.26. Again, the brightness of the sky overwhelmed Tristan’s face (I should have forced the flash).

    Figure 4.27. Increasing the contrast all the way turns Tristan into a silhouette and makes the sky far more dramatic. It wasn’t what I expected, but it turned out well.

Tips

  • Press and release a few times to toggle instantly between the “before” and “after” views of your photo.

  • In most cases you will want to tweak brightness and contrast only slightly.

  • PixelNhance offers better brightness and contrast controls that you can adjust simultaneously (more on PixelNhance later in this chapter).

  • If you change the image’s brightness or contrast, switch modes, and switch back to edit mode, you’ll notice that the brightness and contrast sliders are in the middle position again. This means that in the unlikely event that you want to increase or decrease brightness or contrast more than the sliders allow, a second pass offers more leeway.


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