How to Correct an Uneven Background Light in Photoshop

Written by filonia lechat
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Capturing the perfect time of day on camera can be a struggle, whether it is due to poor lighting options, an overcast sky or shadows. However, this does not mean you have to settle for how your garden picture, landscape shot, group party photo or other image actually came out. Instead, take the picture into Adobe Photoshop, play Mother Nature and correct that uneven background light. With a few clicks, you're able to create an ideal backdrop for your subjects, whatever the original reality.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Open Photoshop. Click the "File" menu and select "Open." Browse to the photo and double-click the image, which opens it in the Photoshop workspace.

  2. 2

    Review the photo and determine whether to correct from dark to light, where to brighten dark sections, or light to dark, where you'll add shadows and darkness to too-light areas.

  3. 3

    Click the "Lasso" tool on the "Tools" palette on the left side. Draw an outline around part of the background with the uneven lighting, such as a streak of light on a wall. When blinking dotted lines appear, right-click them and select "Layer via Copy."

  4. 4

    Click the "Image" menu, click "Adjustments" and select "Levels." Drag the "Levels" window to the right so both picture and window are visible.

  5. 5

    Slide the black or white triangle under the "Output Levels" section of the window and watch how the selected area changes. Sliding the black triangle to the right lightens the area. Sliding the white triangle to the left corrects darkens the area. Write down the numbers in the two "Output Levels" boxes and click "OK."

  6. 6

    Click the "Window" menu and select "Layers" to open the "Layers" palette. Note two layers: a main background layer and a Layer 1 with the correction area.

  7. 7

    Click the Background layer to give it focus. Repeat the "Lasso" and "Layer via Copy" process to create a new selection on another area of the background to correct.

  8. 8

    Repeat the "Image," "Adjustments" and "Levels" process, but type in the numbers into the "Output Levels" boxes instead of using the slider bars to get the correction exactly the same. Click "OK."

  9. 9

    Click the small lined icon at the top right of the "Layers" palette. Select "Flatten Image." Click "File" and select "Save As." Type a new name for the image and save it to the computer.

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