Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design > Adobe Photoshop

  • Print
  • + Share This
Like this article? We recommend

Performing Major Surgery Step-By-Step

Now that you've planned your workflow and settled on a few nondestructive editing tools, let's apply what you've learned to a problem image. We'll consider an example of a severely underexposed image that can be rescued using this approach. The image in Figure 1 was shot indoors at a museum in which flash photography was not permitted and a tripod wasn't available. A faster-than-ideal shutter speed had to be used, and the result was a series of severely underexposed photographs. The exhibit was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and recovering the images has personal meaning to me. The following steps illustrate the process I followed.

Figure 1

Figure 1 This image is severely underexposed and unusable in its current state.

  1. When treating underexposure, start with the Shadow/Highlight filter, which recovers much of the missing detail in both the shadows and in blown-out highlights. Working on a duplicate image layer, select Image > Adjustments > Shadow/Highlight. Use the Shadow slider to draw out the detail in the dark areas of the image. Use the Highlight slider to recover detail in the very light areas of the image. The result is an overall lightening of the image, but with the downside that the amount of noise in the image is increased. In Figure 2, you can see the image after this first step—it's now recognizable for what it is, a carved statue.
    Figure 2

    Figure 2 After applying the Shadow/Highlight filter, much of the image detail has been dragged out of the shadows.

  2. The next step is to remove some of the noise by using the Noise filter. Choose Filter > Noise > Remove Noise and use the Strength slider to control the amount of the fix—the more you apply, the more the image is blurred. Adjust the other sliders to regain sharpness and details in the image. You may want to use the Color noise slider if this helps to reduce the noise. Applying this filter to a duplicate layer allows you to tone down the effect slightly by blending the top layer with the one below. The noise in the image is largely light specks rather than dark, so I applied the Remove Noise filter to a duplicate layer. I then blended the results back into the layer below using the Darken blend mode to retain much of the sharpness of the original image without the distracting noise.
  3. Create a composite layer of the image as it looks right now by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E. The midtones were still too light, so I used the Select > Color Range tool to select the midtones and then applied a levels adjustment to them to darken them. Rather than applying the Levels adjustment to the composite layer, I used a levels adjustment layer, which can be edited later on. To do this, with the selection of the midtones still in place, choose New > Adjustment Layer > Levels and make the adjustment. You can blend this adjustment layer with the layer below using a Darken blend mode to give the image more depth and saturation, but without applying it as a permanent change to the image.
  4. Lightening the image has had the result of lightening not just the statue, but also the background, which is now more distracting than it should be. To fix this, create another composite layer and turn off visibility on all the layers except the topmost composite and the bottom background layer. Create a mask on the top layer to remove some of the edge detail in the fixed image. The original detail from the background image is shown in its place. To create a mask, click the layer and choose Layer > New Layer Mask > Reveal All. Paint in black to apply the mask and to remove the background from the top layer. The final result, as shown in Figure 3, better resembles the statue as I remember it.
    Figure 03

    Figure 3 The final fixed image displays the qualities of the original statue.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020