Normally I will shoot photos late at night using long exposures. On the camera, the photos look great... you can see the stars bright and clearly as well as the landscape. But after importing it into Adobe's LR or PS, the photo is nearly black and I can't even work with the photo because it's just to dark. Even if I turn down the camera's screen brightness, it still comes out too dark on the computer. Any suggestions on how to fix this? I am using a Canon EOS Rebel T4i (650D).

  • Are you using Magic Lantern's dual ISO mode?
    – inkista
    Oct 5 '15 at 18:38
  • I am not, not that I know of... I'm actually not sure what that is. @inkista Oct 5 '15 at 18:40
  • 3
    Could you post an example image with EXIF information, so we can see how you had things set up? Also, when you say on the camera the photos look great, are you talking about looking through the viewfinder? Or reviewing the images on the LCD on the back of the camera?
    – inkista
    Oct 5 '15 at 18:41
  • Yes I'll post one later. And yes on the LCD they look the right brightness. I thought maybe I had the LCD too bright but that wasn't the case. @inkista Oct 5 '15 at 18:47
  • Without an example it is hard to know if the problem is with the exposure of your images, with the calibration of your camera's LCD or your computer's monitor, or a combination of both.
    – Michael C
    Oct 5 '15 at 21:33

Is Lightroom doing some automatic adjustments on import? I have a preset to enhance contrast on every image as part of the import process. I wonder if you've got something like this which is reducing the exposure value? If you view a newly imported image in Develop view, and click 'reset' at the bottom of the editing panel, this will put the image back to its original state, from this you can see the original file as captured. If the stars then appear, then it's a preset on Import.

If this is the problem, you can change the settings on import by going to the Import screen, and in the 'Apply During Import' section, you've got 'Develop Settings'. You can manage presets from there I think, or set it to none


Do you have your monitor calibrated?

Here is a basic tutorial I made sometime ago on how to make basic adjustments. http://www.otake.com.mx/Apuntes/ColorCalibration/ColorCalibration.phtml I need to update it becouse on modern lcd monitors you can not really adjust the black point.

But the most important basic part on a calibrated monitor is a decent gamma.

How is the histogram of the photo?

You need to really know if the foto is dark, or they only apear to be black. The histogram will tell the real inside information. You can not, should not, must not rely on your camera's monitor.

  • Post some samples. Too dark or not too dark is relative.
  • Using calibration by eye is better than nothing, but I have to recommend that anyone who cares about accurate results should buy themselves a monitor calibration device and let the device and appropriate software adjust things precisely. I recommend dispcalGUI which works even in popular Linux desktops.
    – Bobulous
    Oct 6 '15 at 19:46

After taking a shoot, zoom into shadows at 100% and check if they are not clipped. In Lightroom, first reset develop settings and check for camera profile, LR default is Adobe Standard and you just might wanna use same preset as your cameras picture style.

  • How does this explain the discrepancy between the camera's screen and Lightroom or Photoshop?
    – mattdm
    Oct 6 '15 at 13:45
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    This eludes to an answer, but leaves a bit of a jump to be made for the OP. Can you expand the answer to explain more about how different color profiles make a difference and why this actually produces the result the OP is seeing?
    – AJ Henderson
    Oct 6 '15 at 14:07
  • There's a lot more to a camera profile than just a color profile.
    – Michael C
    Oct 7 '15 at 3:14
  • If you set Lightroom color profile same as in camera picture style, you are simply trying to match exact colors that you see on camera, since its calibrated profile. This is not enough to answer OP's original question, but it should get you accurate colors, meaning problem could be in monitor itself (someone already mentioned this in comments)
    – exort
    Oct 7 '15 at 10:39

My guess would be that maybe your camera - like my nikon can adjust the image in camera - sort of - The adjustments are saved almost like a script within the camera image and dont alter the image itself - a lot like the sidecar files in Lightroom.

However these in camera adjustments are usually ignored by Lightroom as they are proprietary to the camera manufacturer. So... when you import to Lightroom, what you see is the original image without any adjustments.

That way, when you import the image to some other image software, you will always get the original untouched image - for better or worse :)

When you adjust images in Lightroom, it doesn't alter the image at all either - except until you export it as a jpg or some other format. Then the adjustments are applied to the exported image and cant be undone.

  • What you see on the camera's LCD is the preview thumbnail that has already been converted to jpeg format in camera and attached to the raw file. Even if you only save raw files, the jpeg thumb is embedded in the file and that is what is displayed on the camera's screen.
    – Michael C
    Oct 7 '15 at 3:12

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