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How do I fix the bright window? I'm new to Photoshop and have no idea how to do anything, so please give easy to follow instructions! I'd like the window to be darker and my mom and brother to be brighter/more emphasized.

If possible, I'd also like to remove the blurry hand on the left or the straw poking up on my brother.

blown window behind backlit subjects

  • No offense, but do you have to use this image of the two? Even with the requested changes applied this appears to be only a mediocre shot. They are looking at something that's out of the frame, your brother holds a tissue in his hand and the facial expressions are not that great, because they are in a conversation I guess. If this is just for editing practice, try to turn a different good frame into a great one instead of fixing this not-so-good one into a mediocre one. That would be a more positive learning experience. If this is what you have to work with, good luck! – null Apr 11 '16 at 18:38
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There are a few different issues that you are trying to correct here so let's go through them from easiest to hardest to fix. Some of these fixes are assuming that you are using the most up to date version of Photoshop.

  1. The blown highlight in the window most likely cannot be fixed. The in camera image did not capture any information other than pure white light in that area, and Photoshop won't be able to do anything because of that.
  2. The simplest way to remove the hand from your picture is to crop it out. Just press the "c" key on your keyboard to switch to the crop menu and drag the left section until the hand is all the way in the grayed out area, press enter and you're done there.
  3. To remove the straw you'll need to use either the quick select tool, or the magnetic lasso. For this straw I would recommend the lasso. On the toolbar to the left, right click on the lasso icon and select the magnetic lasso. Click on the straw and drag your cursor around the outline of the straw until the area you want to remove is selected. Close the loop and just press the delete key. Photoshop will prompt you to use the content aware delete method, use that and it will do its best to fill in what it thinks should be behind the straw.
  4. Emphasizing your mother and brother will be a multi-step process known as dodging and burning. There are many different ways to do this in Photoshop; I am only going to describe the method I use. Using the quick select tool, click and drag to make a selection mask over your mother and brother, doing your best to only get them in the selection. If you accidentally get too much in the selection, there is an option to deselect areas as well. Once you are satisfied with the area you have chosen, right click on the selection and select "Layer via Copy." On the right side of your screen there should be a new layer composed of just the selection that you just made. Click back into the background layer and open the levels tool. Drag the middle slider to the right to make the background darker, while leaving the layer with your mother and brother unaffected. When you are happy with your final image right click on the layer with your mother and brother and click "Merge Visible." This should be your final product and you can save the image from there.
  • 1
    If a RAW file is available I most certainly would not come to the same conclusion you did for issue #1. I'm blown away(pun) time and time again by my cameras ability to save blown highlights of RAW files. – dpollitt Apr 11 '16 at 21:46
  • @dpollitt I would agree that if the RAW file is available then the ACR Adjustment Brush would most likely be able save a fair amount of the blown highlight. However, since the OP specifically mentioned that they do not know much about how to use Photoshop, I made the assumption that the picture was shot as a JPG, not a RAW file. – Jon Apr 11 '16 at 22:27
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I personally do not think that window looks bad at all. It helps by not distracting, specially becouse you centered the window. If you can see what is outside that wolud be distracting.

But lets go on. If you shooted in RAW, try to rescue some information on the highlights moving the curves on that zone.

For the hand, crop it. This will make the composition better becouse they are looking at the right and you do not have much space there.

Besides that there is not much you can do on this photo.

Next time

But next time try some things. Shoot in RAW and underexpose a bit, so you record some information there.

Use a fill light so you have more light on the inside and you are forced to close a bit the aperture, reducing a bit the light on the window.

-1

You cannot make window darker without making the image unnatural

and

you cannot restore the details visible through the window because the nature of digital imaging prohibits you to do so - everything bright enough does not have any information at all, it is just "too bright".

I find that photo is exposed well and you do not need to manipulate brightness. Your best way of emphasizing two people on the right is framing the photo around them or crop the photo in editor if framing is too broad (page 155 of the manual), you will also deal with blurred hand that way.

Your way of editing the straw out is using the clone stamp tool with low hardness (page 161 of the manual) or selecting the detail which should disappear with lasso tool (page 214 of the manual) and then using content-aware fill (page 321 of manual) to see if it guesses the desired content well enough. You may try the same with blurred hand.

Here is the manual which I was referring to. It is manual for version CS5, newer versions of Photoshop will give you similar workflow.

  • OP want's the window darker, not details restored. Although probably blown out, it could be darkened to some degree – MikeW Apr 11 '16 at 19:21
  • @mikew: OP does want to "fix blown out window" (see the title), it means that they want details back. Also, see the chat. – Euri Pinhollow Apr 11 '16 at 19:33

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