Time to be with your loved ones

Time to be with loved ones

by sat

submit your photo


Hall of Fame
View past winners from this year

Please participate in Meta
and help us grow.

Take the 2-minute tour ×
Photography Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional, enthusiast and amateur photographers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What's the difference between adjusting a photo's exposure versus its brightness?

I created a virtual copy of a photo. The original's exposure was increased 1 stop. The other got an increase in brightness from 50 to 100.

Flipping back and forth between the photos, the photos appear to be almost identical and their histograms are almost the same. The colors are the same, except for a very small difference in brighter blues on the photo that saw increased exposure. Side by side, you probably wouldn't be able to find differences, but very small differences are noticeable when you quickly flip the images back and forth.

share|improve this question
3  
Note: In Lightroom 4 (PV2012), the Brightness control will go away, and the effect of the Exposure control will change substantially from earlier versions. This question and these answers will no longer apply to Lightroom 4. –  coneslayer Feb 16 '12 at 1:29
add comment

3 Answers

up vote 21 down vote accepted

Exposure has a stronger effect on the highlights. Brightness has a stronger effect on the midtones.

To quote from the Lightroom user manual:

Exposure Sets the overall image brightness, with a greater effect in the high values.
...
Brightness Adjusts image brightness, mainly affecting midtones.
...
Set the overall tonal scale by setting Exposure, Recovery, and Blacks. Then set the overall image brightness. Large brightness adjustments can affect shadow or highlight clipping, so you may want to readjust the Exposure, Recovery or Blacks slider after adjusting brightness.

[See "Adjust image tonal scale" - Page 75]

share|improve this answer
    
it's always nice when someone includes the reference. thanks. +1 –  AJ Finch Jul 19 '10 at 9:07
add comment

Increasing the Brightness tries to preserve the highlights while increasing Exposure will scale everything.

This image demonstrates it nicely:

alt text

source: http://lightroomkillertips.com/2010/lightroom-exposure-vs-brightness/

share|improve this answer
1  
I am just wondering if Matt Kloskowski is ok with coping the image from his blog. I think it is ok as you added the source and he is pretty generous with sharing his stuff (presets, tutorials etc), but I think it would be worth asking Matt what is acceptable as I am pretty sure his work will be used on this site quite a few times. Perhaps it is something to be discussed on meta. –  kristof Jul 19 '10 at 9:43
    
@kristof: Good point! I sent Matt a message about this just now. –  Marc Jul 19 '10 at 20:05
    
See meta: meta.photo.stackexchange.com/questions/100/… –  Marc Jul 19 '10 at 20:20
    
thanks Mark, I will have a look at meta, I believe there should have a FAQ on that subject –  kristof Jul 23 '10 at 14:17
add comment

The exposure control stretches the histogram in a linear way, so it will affect the brightest colors the most.

The brightness control affects the middle range more, so that you can make an image brighter without affecting the brightest colors too much.

In the image where you increased the exposure, you see that the light blue color is brighter. In the image where you increates the brightness, the light blue was not affected as much.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.