Beginner Cat Photo Skills, Let's Talk About

Let’s Talk About Under Exposure

An underexposed photo can be a real problem for beginners, whether you use a DSLR/Mirrorless camera or a smartphone. But don’t worry there are some easy ways to fight back and make sure you don’t let the darkness steal your photos.

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Not sure what ‘underexposure’ is? Underexposure refers to when an image is too dark, according to the technical rules of what is considered to be correct exposure, ie, darker than what you remember the original scene to be.

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There are two ways to fight back against underexposure in your cat photos and make sure you capture a good shot. Check out my underexposed photo fixes!

First, if you can learn just a bit about your camera settings on your DSLR/Mirrorless camera or smartphone you can dramatically reduce the number of underexposed images you take.

Second. For images already on your smartphone, or computer editing can make an instant and dramatic difference. Both work and both are valid means of improving the outcome of an underexposed photo.

Underexposed Sample

Smartphone Exposure Adjustments

Open your underexposed cat photograph in your favourite smartphone app.

You may have a regulat iPhone or Android app you use but if you need a few ideas try Pixlr or the impressively featured Android app (only $3.99) Camera Zoom FX Premium or you could try my favourite app, Snapseed. iPhones and Android ‘phones all have basic photo editing functions for exposure, cropping and filters.

Look for the Exposure or Brightness tools in your smartphone’s menu. The app will lighten your whole image which may be exactly what you need.

Smartphone Extra Tips

If you still need to make more detailed photo adjustments some editing apps have separate sliders for Highlights, Shadows, and Black tones, see if you have these.

  • Highlights: This brightens the brightest parts of your photo. Great for lightening a gloomy sky or bringing out details in sunlit fur.
  • Shadows: This brightens the darker areas and doesn’t affect your highlights. It is perfect for revealing details in dark corners or under a tree.
  • Blacks: This adjusts the darkest tones in your image. Use it carefully to avoid losing detail in shadows, but it can be helpful for adding a bit of depth.

Then save your image as a separate copy. If you do this you can try different adjustments to see which treatment works best for your photo.

Basic Editing Tools (iPhone)

BONUS TIP: There’s a fine line between brightening and blowing out your photo which loses important details. Blowing out means white areas are very bright and you lose all your details.

Explore DSLR Camera Settings

To avoid future dark captures you can learn how your camera reacts to different types of light so you can change the settings ahead of your photo shoot. If time is limited, you can also use Automatic or a mode like Aperture Priority (Av/A) or Shutter Priority (S/Tv) where the camera helps you out.

Aperture Priority is my go-to mode for cat photos and with this I avoid a lot of dark disappointing images.

Using the camera’s modes like Av/A and S/Tv is a great way to learn about exposure for beginners. Try using a mode then check and see which settings the camera thought were best. If the image was a success make a note the settings then use these yourself next time. (Av – Canon A – Nikon)

Super quick reminder. The larger your camera’s aperture, for example f1.8 – the more light you are letting in. The smaller the aperture such as f22, the less light reaches into your camera. I know f-stops are confusing. I coped by remembering f1.8 is huge and F22 is really small without trying to understanding the science behind it.

Use Your DSLR/Mirrorless Menu or Mode Dial

Computer Editing Ideas

If you have computer software like Paintshop Pro, GIMP, Affinity Photo, or Photoshop Elements you can download your images and adjust them with a larger range of tools and even a gentle touch of AI.

  • If you don’t have a good brand of software, Fotor is a free online editor with the chance to upgrade to an impressive range of tools (you join and get free credits). It worked well with my image of Toulouse as you can see here.

BONUS TIP: If your photo is still a bit dark after adjusting exposure, try increasing the “Contrast” slider. This will make the lights lighter and the darks darker.

Exposure Tips Summary

Smartphones really rock the low light captures much more than they used to so try for any shot. You might be really happy with the results.

Don’t overdo your editing. Remember that if you are not totally happy with a cat photo, you may only need to make a small exposure adjustment and you will transform your image not a lot of fussy work.

For beginners using DSLR/Mirrorless cameras; making friends with Av/A and S/Tv modes and two basic f-stops to build your skills. I love Aperture Priority when I feel anxious about settings, it works so often.

We are not experts but learning all the time so have fun exploring and you will take away the dark in no time.

Did you know ISO is another way to help your photo look a bit brighter? Discover ISO basics

6 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Under Exposure”

  1. I must have a dozen plus photos that are dark so thank you so much for these tips and links to adjust them which I am going to check for the future. Your posts alway teach me something

  2. As you know, I’m great with overexposed photos of Henry. I’ve been experimenting with brightness in editing. I haven’t mastered it yet. Your tips will certainly help improve my skills. Thanks, Marjorie for another great tutorial!

  3. Dark images are sometimes an issue for me, so I appreciate the tips. I don’t have too many settings but I look forward to seeing how/if I can make some edits.

  4. You always have the best tips, thanks!!! Thanks for joining Angel Brian’s Thankful Thursday Blog Hop.


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