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Two controls in software editors are Brightness and Exposure. Both seem to do the same thing: increase the lighting in the image if they're too dark.

Why would a outdoor photographer use either or both? How about indoor, any difference?

When to use one vs the other?

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They are different (in my editor, Gimp). When you brighten an image:

  • Brightness has more effect on the darks (so black becomes dark gray),
  • Exposure has more effect on the lights (black remains black, lights can become burned out). It is a better simulation of what you would get with a longer exposure/wider aperture.

Technically, their curves are like this:

enter image description here

And their results like this (in both cases, #808080 has been brightened to (#A0A0A0)

enter image description here

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for distinguishing the two. In a color photo setting, how does one decide which to use? \$\endgroup\$
    – user610620
    Feb 12, 2022 at 15:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ If it's to fix an exposure problem that made a picture too dark, Exposure is likely better. No hard rules, depends on the picture and the problem. Using the Curves tool instead of these two you can have the best of both. \$\endgroup\$
    – xenoid
    Feb 12, 2022 at 15:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ How is (color?) Curves different \$\endgroup\$
    – user610620
    Feb 14, 2022 at 19:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ With Curves you can define any mapping between input and output. The other methods restrict you to one or two axes of change. \$\endgroup\$
    – xenoid
    Feb 14, 2022 at 20:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ what are the y- and x-axis in your first graph above? Please edit into the answer \$\endgroup\$
    – user610620
    Feb 15, 2022 at 10:40

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