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2,812 Tutorials

Improve contrast in digital photos

Fix poor contrast photos for free

A high-contrast photo is one that has a whole range of intensity levels from the dark shadows all the way through to bright highlights. If an image has poor contrast it will lack impact.

To a degree contrast is affected by the quality of the camera’s lens and the CCD and, inevitably, you get what you pay for. However, very poor contrast can also be caused by particular lighting conditions and in that case there’s little you can do to improve things when you take the shot.

However, you can always improve the contrast afterwards and you can even enhance the contrast of perfectly acceptable shots for impact but beware of overdoing it.

For a quick and easy fix try selecting either Low, Middle or High from the ‘Auto Contrast’ menu on the Home tab in Photoscape. For more control, though, you should turn to the Luminance Curve that we’ve already used to correct a bad exposure.

A curve that represents an improvement in contrast will be below the diagonal at the left-hand-side and above the diagonal at the right-hand-side. If you want to reduce the contrast (a less-common requirement) the curve would have the opposite overall shape. You could also try the Saturation Curve for more vibrant colours.

Photoscape improve contrast

Here are the before and after images:

Before

Photoscape contrast - before

After

Photoscape contrast - after

This article is part of our Fix your photos feature, and uses the free Photoscape image editor from www.photoscape.org. The principles apply to other image editing software, but the steps above explain how to achieve the fix in Photoscape.

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