How to Fix Overexposed Areas in Gimp

Written by theon weber
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The free, open-source image editor GIMP offers a few different ways to darken a portion of an image, thus fixing -- or at least minimising -- exposure errors in photographs. The simplest method is to select a portion of the image, and adjust the Brightness/Contrast sliders, but more precise and powerful adjustments can be made with the help of a gain control layer.

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    With the Brightness/Contrast Tool

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    Open your image in GIMP, and use one of its selection tools to select the part of the image you want to darken. You can use the Rectangle and Ellipse selection tools to carve out a perfectly regular section of image, but you will probably want to use the Free tool to hand-select an irregular region.

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    Right click on the selected area, point to "Colors," and click "Brightness-Contrast." A dialogue box will appear with sliders for brightness and contrast; experiment with dragging them to the left to change the look of the selected area.

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    Check the "Preview" box, and experiment with dragging the "Brightness" and "Contrast" sliders to the left to change the look of the selected area. Click "OK" when you're done.

    With a Gain Control Layer

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    Open your image in GIMP, then open the Layers dialogue box, if it isn't already open, by pressing "CTRL" and "L" simultaneously. Click "New Layer," then select the "White" radio button, and click "OK." This will create a new solid-white layer, the same size as the original image, on top of your image's main layer. Your image will be obscured by the white, but don't worry.

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    Click the new layer in the Layers box, and select "Multiply" from the "Mode" drop-down box. Your image will reappear; the layer above it is now acting as a gain control layer. Where the layer is white, the corresponding part of the image below it will be fully visible; where it is black, the image below it will be blacked out; and where it's a shade in between, the image will be darkened.

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    Select the Paintbrush tool, then click the colour swatch to select a shade of grey. Paint onto the gain control layer at the place where you want to darken the image.

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    Experiment with different shades and brush sizes to make exactly the changes you want. You can also use the Pencil tool for more precise changes. When using either tool, you may want to check the "Use colour from gradient" box in the tool's options -- this will help keep the image free of abrupt and artificial-looking changes in brightness.

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