As a photographer you get into the habit of shooting wherever you find an awesome backdrop in natural light [i.e. flowers/bushes/trees/you know... awesome things in nature] but there's not always a really sweet light source. Actually, there's almost never a really a perfectly sweet light source. The sun goes in and out of clouds, you can't rely on it to add just the right amount of light in the middle of the day, and once you hit that sweet spot, you're just minutes away from it being gone.
So there in lies the dilemma - how do you capture the shot in the moment without any additional equipment AND get the exposure you're looking for? Sometimes - you know just how to do it and get that perfect image, but then there are those moments when you're just so excited to have found the perfect location with the perfect model that you just start shooting. Those times when you load your SD card into the computer and wait to see these gorgeous images that came out. You start flipping through your queue and find that they're all way too dark.
Now - What to do?
My favorite way to bring a little light back to your image is by combining a few awesome tools to get one badass image. First, I start with playing with my exposure, typically this is done in Adobe Lightroom but can just as easily be done in Photoshop or any number of free online editing apps like PicMonkey.
Once I find a happy medium between too dark and too unrealistic, I add a soft light 50% grey layer in Photoshop to dodge and burn my layers with ease and precision. Typically I start off with my dodge and burn layer at 100% - so it looks a little crazy at first but once you get the areas highlighted and toned that you want to, just play with the opacity settings to get it right where you want.
This helps me bring this -
To this -
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