Exposure offers you a way to enhance even the most humdrum of photos, and if you’re aiming for polished images it’s an indispensable adjustment. It gives you a level of control over the lighting, helping you to even out photos taken in gloomy or overly bright conditions. It’s not a magic bullet – fiddling with the exposure controls won’t save photos taken in truly dire conditions – but it can certainly help with most images.
iPhoto’s exposure controls are designed with simplicity in mind. While it lacks some of the more sophisticated exposure controls you’ll find in full-blown image-editing tools, such as Photoshop’s Gamma adjustments, what it does offer is a set of slick, easily controlled tools that allow you to see the impact of your changes as you make them, with an emphasis on subtle results. It’s very well designed for the touchscreen interface, offering a high degree of control over the modifications.
More iPhoto tutorials
As recently featured in iPad & iPhone User, we have a series of seven tutorials covering different aspects of iPhoto for the iPhone and iPad. This superb app will make editing your photos a dream.
Time required: 5 mins
What you need:
iOS 5.1 or later
Step 1: The lazy option
If you’re looking to brighten up dull, underexposed images in a hurry, you could do worse than Auto-Enhance in the main options menu – this will automatically boost the exposure and colour settings. It’s capable of a lot more, though: tap the aperture icon for the full Exposure controls panel.
Step 2: On the bright side
iPhoto offers a tactile way of adjusting a photo’s exposure: touch and hold on an area of the photo, and then swipe along the axis that appears to tweak the brightness. The exposure controls are set so that each swipe provides a limited change – for more extreme results, swipe repeatedly.
Step 3: In the shadows
Tapping and holding on a darker area brings up a similar swipable axis, which allows you to deepen or brighten the shadows. Although these tools are often described as adjusting those specific areas, be aware that using these controls adjusts the tones across the whole image.
Step 4: High contrast
Swiping horizontally from the shadow or brightness controls enables you to adjust the contrast between light and dark. If you’re aiming for naturalistic results, it’s wise to be restrained when moderating contrast, as the results can soon become saturated or bleached, and obviously manipulated.
Step 5: Hit the bar
For fine-grained control, the Exposure bar is your ally. Pull the handles at either end to adjust shadows and highlights, or pull the central icon to adjust brightness. The smaller buttons control contrast, while red areas at either end of the bar indicate when the photo is becoming distorted.
Step 6: Batch fit
Once you’ve found an exposure setting that works, it’s handy to be able to apply the same changes to other photos. Tap the cog in the bottom-right corner and select Copy Exposure. You can then paste your exposure settings on to another image or images, and tweak it further as the photo requires.