How I salvaged a very underexposed image!

This week is going to be a quick edit for you of a low-key image that I initially thought I would trash.

Backlight is like Art to me, add a Wild Horse with what we fondly call Witches’ knots in their mane and that gorgeous rim light of the setting sun…. well, I had to at least try to make something out of it!

Witches’ knots are the tangles that form in a mane and tail over time. They remind me a lot of dreadlocks in human hair.

There is a bit of mythology that accompanies the witches’ knot, also known as wind knots or fairy knots. Folklore claims that a witch will borrow the horse at night and ride it, leaving a “braid” in its mane by morning. Others say that fairy’s flit around and create them while we aren’t looking. You can come to your own conclusions!

Now on to this month’s before and after.

Keep in mind the original is underexposed, it was very dark on the McCullough Peaks range when I clicked the trigger. So, obviously I’m going with the low-key theme.

Raw file SOOC (straight out of the camera)

Camera Raw Edit in Photoshop Adobe Camera Raw (ACR)

As you can see, I increased the exposure a little, took the highlights all the way up to 100, shadows +31 and the blacks -85. I did not adjust the white balance.

My goal was to show as much rim light as possible. Then I open the image in Photoshop.

Initially I didn’t think I was going to crop the image, so I wanted more rim light to show up over the back and barrel of the horse.

Therefore, I did an isolated adjustment in Levels.

On my first crop I tried to maintain as much of the image as possible.

Since I’m shooting with the Nikon Z9 I have plenty of pixels so, in the end I decided to crop away his barrel

so the viewer’s eye would go to his head and mane.

It can also work in Black and White with that gorgeous flaxen mane.

Hope this makes you look at your images in a different way and maybe you can salvage something you thought needed to go to the trash bin!



PS You can learn one on one with me with on-line mentoring sessions via Zoom or join us LIVE at our Cowgirls with Cameras Cottonwood Ranch event!