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"Image is too dark" rejections

1. ColinBrough18 October 2013, 17:31 GMT +02:00

I've had a number of rejections recently, reason given: "Image is too dark". Quite content that the decision was correct... but my question is what I can do next time to improve the images I take:

- over-expose compared to what the camera suggests? (its a Canon EOS 450D with decent lenses)

- lighten the image in photo-editing software afterwards (in my case gimp on Linux)? If so, just going to Brightness and Contrast and bumping the contrast up a bit? Or shooting raw and using the "Exposure compensation in EV" slider in "ufraw"? (I don't really understand the options it gives me...)

For a specific example, here is a recently rejected image:


Maybe a pointer to some tutorial materials online?

I was a bit tempted to complain about a bias against those of us who live in largely grey climates (I'm in Scotland), and who will often shoot in dull or dark conditions!! :-)

2. coolhewitt2318 October 2013, 18:21 GMT +02:00

I live in Sunny South China. We get too much sun light.

3. xymonau19 October 2013, 3:52 GMT +02:00

I can only give you advice based on my limited knowledge and equipment.

Most editing software has a way to lighten, but you need to look at the end image. Do the colours now look unnatural? Is the noise now more visible? (Removing the noise first is best.)

Using curves, dodge, equalise, colour adjustment (toward the green and blue and away from cyan and magenta), levels, brightness and contrast - or their equivalents on Gimp - will all achieve a lighter effect. (Bumping up the contrast doesn't necessarily improve an image and may make it darker as well.) Running a paintbrush in a particular colour set to luminosity or similar will work.

You can find lots of plugins and filters that will improve photos, both free and commercial, but I don't know if Gimp works with Photoshop plugins.

Something that works for one image may not work for the next, so you have to experiment.

Now I've said my bit, the experts - will come along and tell you how to do it properly. I'm going to download the photo and see if I can lighten it acceptably. I'll edit this post if it looks better.

Okay - I didn't ask your permission and I apologise if you're not happy about this. I uploaded to RGBStock on Facebook with both photos to see the contrast. I have given directions there for what I did. I hope you can find alternatives in Gimp.


Let me know as soon as you see the images and I will remove them.

4. ColinBrough19 October 2013, 9:27 GMT +02:00

(Also posted this in the Facebook group, alongside Dez's fiddlings with the image.)

Thanks - don't mind you fiddling/demonstrating with my image - seeing and experimenting with one of my own images (in which I have - a little - invested) will probably help my learning more than some abstract tutorial. Appreciate that - will now go and try it all myself!

Similar experience with a lampost image (http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/mn4s4tI/Lamppost) which was originally rejected on noise grounds got me a step up in preparing my images for submission, when someone (I think at the other place, when forums there still worked) took me through the steps to clean it up...

5. xymonau19 October 2013, 10:12 GMT +02:00

Good luck. It's a very nice photo.

6. xymonau19 October 2013, 11:28 GMT +02:00

Michael has done a great version on Facebook - much easier than mine.

7. Donna11121 October 2013, 10:31 GMT +02:00

HI there
I usually do the image issues with an image processing tool(http://www.rasteredge.com/how-to/csharp-imaging/process-online/)
But it can not light the image.So if there is an image program which supports to light the image,i'd also like to try.

8. xymonau21 October 2013, 13:17 GMT +02:00


There is a freeware version of this software. I have no idea of how effective it is, but the price is right.

9. ColinBrough21 October 2013, 23:19 GMT +02:00

@7, I use gimp for most photo-processing. It has similar capablities to PhotoShop, but arranged (and often named) slightly differently. It is open-source, works on Linux, MS Windows and Mac OS X. It will take as long to learn as something like PhotoShop. It has the concept of plugins (like PhotoShop), but they are not compatible with each other:


There are books available on learning gimp, eg:


10. micromoth22 October 2013, 6:26 GMT +02:00

Another possibility for lightening an image is in Photoshop to duplicate the layer, change the blend mode to Screen, reduce the opacity to around 25-30% and then flatten the image.

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