9. Rescue dull, dark exposures
Everyone makes mistakes – it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been taking pictures. Mistakes are not just part of the learning curve, they are proof that you are still experimenting with your photographs!
But there’s no need to reach for the Delete button when you take a shot that’s not perfect. You can’t always work miracles with Photoshop CS or Photoshop Elements, but you can usually work wonders! Exposure, in particular, can be fixed easily using image manipulation software.
You have much more control, and get fewer unwanted side effects, if you shoot using the RAW Quality setting. But you can also make corrections to both brightness and contrast if you shoot as JPEGs. Drab colours  and dark areas  in an image are particularly easy to correct for.
Rescue an underexposed shot with Photoshop Elements
1. Open the shot in Elements and go to Layers>NewAdjustment Layer>Levels. (You could use Auto Levels, but an Adjustment Layer gives a more polished end result.) Move the right-hand slider until it meets the far right of the graph. This will instantly brighten the picture. Adjust the central slider to fine-tune the exposure.
2. Take a look at the change. You’ll notice that this exposure correction has left the sky looking rather washed out, but you can boost its colour using a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Here we have increased the Saturation slider for just the blue parts of the image.
10. Don’t flood the scene with flash
Working in low light conditions is always a challenge, and although you can often make do without using flash, sometimes it’s unavoidable (for more on low light, see Night Photography: set up your camera to shoot anything).
The advantage of the convenient built-in ‘pop-up’ flash on many digital cameras is that you’ve always got it with you. But while a ‘pop-up’ flash is a effective way of solving a lighting dilemma, its effect can often be rather stark and unflattering.
The limited range and power of a built-in flash mean that although the subject in the foreground may be adequately lit , the background usually becomes a dark, featureless expanse . It looks unnatural, and you can lose the setting and detail of your scene .
The solution is to combine a burst of flash to light the foreground with a slow shutter speed to lighten the background of your image. This may sound complicated, but you can activate this ‘slow sync’ effect to get balanced exposures by simply setting the right flash mode (or switching to Av mode).
This sets the right flash power for the aperture you have selected, but then also calculates the necessary slow shutter speed to ensure that the background is also correctly exposed (for more, learn how to eliminate harsh shadows when using flash).
PAGE 1: Cut out the clutter; Avoid limp landscapes
PAGE 2: Stay sharp at slow shutter speeds; Banish lifeless still lifes
PAGE 3: Avoid portraits that lack focus; Shoot into the light and avoid a washout
PAGE 4: Avoid lifeless action shots; Avoid poor photos in low light
PAGE 5: Rescue dull, dark exposures; Don’t flood the scene with flash
Flash photography made easy: master everything from pop-up flash to multiple flashguns
Flash photography tips: external flash techniques anyone can understand
Fine art photography: what you need to shoot amazing photo projects at home