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Chapter 4. Editing Photos > What the Brightness slider does

What the Brightness slider does

In Figure 4.33, you can see a photo of trees reflected in an ice-covered pond. It was a gray day, and the photo came out quite light. In Figure 4.34, I've reduced the brightness significantly, which brings out the reflections of the tree branches.

Figure 4.33. This photo is simply too bright, and although the subject matter is interesting, without help it won't be a particularly good picture.

Figure 4.34. With the brightness reduced, the reflected trees show up much better, rescuing an otherwise hopeless photo.

Note how the mountain ranges in the histogram have slid to the left; the Brightness slider essentially slides the mountain ranges to the left and right within the histogram without changing their size or shape. That's because the histogram is a measure of brightness; the slider just changes which pixels appear in which brightness positions.

✓ Tips

  • Remember that different levels of brightness look different on different monitors, in printouts, and in prints you order.

  • The Exposure slider provides a similar effect; however, it changes brightness without massively overexposing or underexposing the image. The advantage of the Exposure slider is that it doesn't change the black and white points of the photo, as does the rather crude Brightness slider. (In fact, brightness controls in most programs are quite blunt instruments; iPhoto isn't unusual in this respect.) See “Adjusting Exposure,” later in this chapter, for a better approach.

What Else Would I Do?

This photo, because it's not terribly realistic (so people don't have expectations of how it should look) would also benefit from an increase in contrast and saturation, as well as a bump up in sharpness to bring out the details of the reflections and snow. And honestly, I'd even consider (on a duplicate) changing its colors radically with the Temperature and Tint sliders.

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