How to work with Chasing Light: Fixing Underexposed Images

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  By Pia Lopez
How to work with Chasing Light: Fixing Underexposed Images

Hello all, today we’re going to talk about how to fix underexposed images, using our “Chasing Light” workflow. When you have an image that is underexposed, you’ll find that it is a bit darker and the colors are muted. But, not to worry, we have the tools to fix it right here.

So, now that I have my photograph of three little girls sitting in a small boat pulled up, let’s go ahead and get started.

One way you can fix and an underexposed image is to go into the “Chasing Light” presets and scroll down to EXPOSURE – Brighten 2, that will bring my photo up two stops.

It is important to note that fixing an underexposed image isn’t just about bringing light back into the photo, but is also about fixing the colors that have been lost.

So to help with that, we are going to use a second “Chasing Light” preset. This time we’ll use Lomo Baby 2, which is an All in One preset. Once applied, this preset has given the photo a warmer tone and has also brought out the turquoise and aqua colors in my photograph.

Next, I will apply a Polish preset from the “Chasing Light” workflow, this time Sharpen 2 to help sharpen the image a little bit.

Now that we have added our presets, we’ll move into our “Chasing Light” brushes. I will show you how we can use the brushes to further enhance the photograph.

The first brush that we will go with is the LIGHT – Brighten brush. I’ll turn the Exposure up quite a bit, then use this brush all along the subjects in the photo, just to bring some more light to them.

Let’s click New to start a fresh brush, then go into our “Chasing Light” Color brushes. This time we’ll go with COLOR – Cooler.

When we select this brush, we can see that it has kind of a white tone. I am going to move the color up to more of a turquoise/blue tone, and use it to add a tiny bit of color to their dresses, to help make the dresses stand out more. We can play with that color some, by making adjustments to the sliders in the panel, in my case I’ll turn up the Saturation, Contrast and Exposure.

Now, even though we have applied the presets and stacked them on top of each other as “one click edits”, I will now go into my Basic tab and play with the temperature. I want to warm the photo up a little bit, just to compliment the blues that are in the photograph.

Before I finish with this photo, I want to add a vignette. Let’s go back to our presets and scroll down to VIGNETTE Medium Black 2.

With that applied, it looks a little darker than what I want, so what we can do to lessen that effect is going to the Basic tab, then down to Effects. Open Effects, look for Highlight Priority and there we will adjust the amount up a little.

That’s all we are going to do with this photograph. In the before and after, you’ll see that we have taken an underexposed image and really added a lot of light and color to it. This is really the perfect way to use our “Chasing Light” workflow, as it is about bringing color and light back into your photographs.

Moving on to our next photograph, this one is an underexposed photo of a little girl sitting on a beach near sunset.

Like the previous photo, we will begin by applying some “Chasing Light” presets, we’ll start with EXPOSURE – Brighten. Once we have applied that preset, you’ll occasionally see that some of the highlights may become blown out, especially with the sun in the photo. To correct the highlights we will go over to our Basic tab, then tweak the preset a bit by turning down the Highlights some, which will bring back that blown out detail.

Next we will use an All in One preset, this time we’ll use Paisley 2. Now we’ve added color, but lost some of the light. To fix that, we will go back over to our Basic tab and turn the Exposure up a bit, then turn the Highlights down again.

When we applied this preset, it also added a bit too much warmth. There are two ways to fix that, first by adjusting the Temperature slider, or I could go into the Color tab and choose the colors individually that I want to adjust. For this photo, we will pull the Yellow up and the orange down a bit, giving the photo more balanced colors.

To help balance it out a little more, we’ll pull the Blue up some for the sky and then, we will pull up the Magenta slightly for the pants that the subject is wearing, making the color pop a bit.

Now we’re going to move over to the “Chasing Light” brushes for this photograph.

The first brush that we’ll choose is going to be the Add Golden Sun brush. We will use this brush to add some light back where the sunset is affecting the photo, However, the color that it has chosen is a little too bright for this photograph, so we will open the colors and fix it. We will just move the yellow down to a more pale tone, more fitting for this particular image.

Once we have it right, we’ll just apply that brush to the area around the sunset and down into the sand a little bit. We can also drag it into the water as well, keeping a natural effect.

Alright, so let’s go ahead and click New to start a fresh brush, then go back into our “Chasing Light” brushes. This time we’ll choose the HAZE- Golden brush and go over the same areas as we did with the Golden Sun brush, really just adding to the sunsets effect.

Like we did in the last photograph, we will add light to the subject. Let’s go back into the brushes and select the LIGHT – Brighten brush. Apply this brush right onto the subject, turning the Exposure up some, just to add more light to her. After we have applied the brush, we will go into our Effects, then under Highlight Priority we will raise the Amount slider a bit. For this Photo, we did not choose a vignette, but when we applied the All in One preset, it was automatically added. With making this adjustment we can have slightly less of a vignette. And now we’re done with this photograph.

As you will see in our before and after, we started with an underexposed image and we have not only raised the exposure, but we’ve added a lot of overall color and light to the subject. We have also added a lot of contrast between the golden color around the sun and the blue in the sky.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and get to try out our “Chasing Light” workflow for yourself soon.

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Pia Lopez

Pia Lopez is a self-taught photographer, graphic designer and ArchViz artist. As Content Director of, her work is driven by her two biggest passions: technology and art.

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