How to Fix Overexposed Photos in Lightroom

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After every photo shoot, you likely edit your pictures. This includes fixing over exposed pictures you might have captured, which typically occur when you use the wrong camera settings. It’s important to know how to fix overexposed photos in Lightroom so that you can adjust mistakes made while shooting.

How to Fix Overexposed Photos in Lightroom

Lightroom can be used to fix overexposed photos by using the various slider, dehaze tool, graduated filters, and making manual adjustments. Reducing exposure is necessary to bring out the details in your images.

Apply Presets

Before starting off, you should use presets. Presets come with in-built edits and some of these will allow you to fix overexposed images. They require almost no effort and can be used by anyone.

Adjusting sliders takes some expertise, however, presets come with built-in settings. Choosing the right preset, applying the right settings to your images and can help fix overexposed images.

Person standing on cliff

Activate the Clipping Indicators

This tool allows you to see where shadows and highlights are being clipped in your images. In essence, it shows which areas of the photo are too bright or too dark. Go to the Develop Module and click the Histogram panel. Here, you can activate the clipping indicators before starting your work.

The blue area indicates that you have lost details to shadows while the bright areas show that you have lost some details to highlights. You can keep this on while editing to help you in the process.


Besides clipping indicators, you can use the histogram to detect overexposure in images. A histogram tool, found in the Develop Module, shows a graph. This graph represents exposure to your images and helps you make adjustments.

Adjust the Sliders

To fix the exposure in photos, Lightroom has several sliders which can help you adjust the exposure throughout the picture.

Exposure Slider

The very first step you must take is using the exposure slider in Lightroom. Go to the Basic Panel and adjust the exposure slider towards the left. As you move the slider, the picture will start getting darker, thus reducing the overexposed areas.

The problem with using the slider is that it reduces the exposure in all the areas of the picture equally. If you have some areas which are more exposed than the others, then using this tool is not a very good idea. This slider can darken some areas more than you would like.

Highlight Slider

The highlight slider allows you to adjust the bright parts of your images and bring out the lost details in the brightest parts of an image. Through this, you can recover the last details in a burnt-out image.

An example where the highlight slider comes to use is recovering the details in an overexposed cloud image. You can move the slider to see what parts of your images can be recovered. However, if the picture is too over exposed, the highlight slider will not be able to bring back the lost details.

White Slider

This slider is used to dictate the brightest value in your image. As discussed earlier, the white slider sets the limits within which the highlight slider can be adjusted. It affects the brightest parts of your images.

A good practice is to lower the white slider to -100 to see if exposure has been reduced. When moving the slider to the left, the brightness of mid-tones gets adjusted downwards. You can hold the OPTION/ALT button to see a threshold that displays the exact whiteness of an image.

Normally, the white slider is adjusted before the highlight slider, however, what you can do is move the highlight slider to the leftmost. Then adjust the white slider to adjust the extent of the highlight slider.

Man walking on mountain during daytime

Use a Graduated Filter

Lightroom has a graduated filter which can be found under the Histogram. The graduated filter can help you brighten skies, bring out details, and adjust backgrounds. Select the graduated filter and click on the part of your image where you want the filter to start making changes.

Within this filter, you can reduce the exposure, adjust brightness and contrast to overall reduce overexposure in the image.

Try the Dehaze Tool

The dehaze tool can be used to bring out the details in the image. This tool is found in the Basic Panel. This tool helps you bring life to an overall flat image. Here, you should move the slider to the right.

It must be used sparingly because using it too much can make the picture appear over-edited. Hence, when you use this, adjust the highlight and saturation sliders too to make the picture compensate for it.

Use the Brush Tool

All the other tools work on the whole image, though,  there are sometimes when you want to fix exposure in a particular part of an image. Here, the brush tool in Lightroom can help. Brush over the area where you feel the exposure needs to be fixed, and then adjust the highlights and whites accordingly.

Through the brush tool, you can make adjustments to the sky or other parts of the image accordingly.

Convert to Black and White

Lastly, if nothing else works, you can always convert your image to black and white. You have two options here. You can click on the B&W tab in the HSL panel and Lightroom will apply a black and white auto setting. Then you can select an area of an image and increase or decrease the intensity to your liking.

You can find the second option in Presets, under the B&W options. This makes sure that people focus on the bright parts of your image.

Related Questions

Why Are My Pictures Overexposed?

Overexposure occurs when an image appears brighter than it should. It happens when too much light hits the sensor. It could be because of the camera’s settings such as keeping the ISO levels too high, using a wide aperture, or slow shutter speed.

Also, there are times when you are exposed to uneven lighting. These scenes might include sunrises and sunsets where the sun’s brightness might lead to overexposure.

How Do You Soften Images in Lightroom?

You can soften images in Lightroom by using contrast, highlight, and exposure sliders. Move these sliders according to your preference. However, these sliders make adjustments to the whole image. To make adjustments in particular parts of the image, you can use an adjustment tool to highlight that part and adjust the settings accordingly.


Pictures can be overexposed due to camera settings or the light conditions. Knowing how to fix overexposed photos in Lightroom involves using several tools such as clipping indicators, different sliders, and sometimes making manual adjustments.