I have a series of close up photographs (distances of 6-8") that were taken as RAW (DNG) files using a mobile phone, they were taken by someone with minimal experience and have areas that are over exposed to the extent that they are almost pure white with minimal data existing in the original file other than white or shades of it, so Photoshop cannot automatically retouch them or correct for the over exposure.

I've tried manually adjusting all of the normal setting such as brightness, contrast, color balance, and so on, but there just isn't enough detail in the file to get a good image.

Are there any techniques that could be used to "fill in the blanks" on the picture. for example using AI rendering, that are easily accessible, or any programs that have a similar feature.

Or should I just give up and manually draw in the missing parts of the images using an art package?

I'm using Adobe, Clip Studio and GIMP, but am not limited to them. So this is more a question about available tools and techniques than about how to use a specific package.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you try with highlights slider in Lightroom/Camera RAW? Also in curves have you try the same (right/upper part)? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 17, 2022 at 16:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Romeo Ninov, yes, there isn't any underlying data. The over exposed portions are almost pure white. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 17, 2022 at 16:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ In PS you can try with content aware fill. But select very carefully the source area to get something with is (in some degree) meaningful. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 17, 2022 at 16:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ "are almost pure white"; "almost" is the important word. "Completely" would be hopeless. But hard to tell without seeing an example of the pics. \$\endgroup\$
    – xenoid
    Dec 18, 2022 at 1:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ What about reshooting the photos? \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Dec 19, 2022 at 21:34

3 Answers 3


If the data is gone, it's gone. Any area that reads as 255,255,255 contains no information at all. It's blown-out.

Take a really simple example as demonstration…
We take a screenshot
enter image description here

Then we lift the exposure until none of the name remains, though the other details are still vaguely visible.
enter image description here

Then we save that, so we have no 'undo' steps. Open the new copy & try to recover the original data
enter image description here

It's gone. Nothing we do can recover the name.

It's exactly the same with a blown-out area in a photograph. You have a better shot from RAW than jpg, but once it's gone, it's gone.

Sorry, the extra black lines on the first two images is a result of my inaccurate screen-shotting from inside photoshop, not part of the experiment.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm wondering if there is some variation on the tools used to remove people from photographs that could digitally fill in the blanks that using the same type of algorythm. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 17, 2022 at 19:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ There's content-aware fill, as mentioned by Romeo above, but it can't invent things, only guess based on what you select to fill from. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 17, 2022 at 19:31

It is most likely that your photo is overexposed in that part and is outside the highlights of the histogram chart, which means that no data has been recorded on the sensor as details, and normally no real details can be returned to the photo, but if still a part If there are few details in the exposed parts, you can use Photoshop's artificial intelligence technique to reproduce it in an intelligent and almost natural way and correct the places that lack details. Method of work: Open the image in Photoshop. Select the square selection tool, select the part that is overexposed 》 right click 》 select delete 》 a menu will open, make sure the drop-down menu is on the content aware function at the top 》 press the OK button, Photoshop after the time has passed And finally, the analysis of the details that are in the vicinity of that empty part will correct it. Note: You may need to test it in different ways when choosing white areas that are empty of details to get the best results.


Try this: duplicate the layer and set the blend mode to Multiply. The entire image looks too dark. Double-click the layer (not the name of the layer but the grey background) in the Layers palette. This opens up Layer Styles: Layer Style palette

Move the left triangle to the right and watch as the darker parts of the image revert to their underlying color, leaving just the lighter parts. The effect will be abrupt, so alt-click (PC) or option-click (Mac) the vertical line in the middle of the triangle to split it apart. You can now adjust the range where the effect begins to occur.

The effect may be too subtle. Open the Layers palette and move the left triangle to the right to increase contrast: Levels palette

Since you are only affecting the very brightest pixels, you will see an increase in texture in the brightest highlights.


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