How to Lighten Your Photos.

Introduction: How to Lighten Your Photos.

About: Bytesize articles instead of a trilogy in one post.

How many diy article photos do i see that are so dark as to be unusable. There is a free program called "The Gimp" (available at which is available for most platforms. You do not need Adobe Photoshop to to this simple technique I am about to show you. Now that I have a newer monitor, those old dark pictures do not appear to be so dark anymore. Technique is still the same if needed.

Other gimp tricks at
Update: I changed the intent of the instructable. (removed a few steps for other content.)

Step 1: Typical Instructable Photo

Can you discern what this photo is really about? My apologies to the author of the instructable for using their picture but....... 

Step 2: Get the Gimp

Install the gimp and then load in the dark picture. (Most linux distros have the Gimp with a standard install)

Step 3: Now the Mod!

Go to Colors on the menu and choose Brightness Contrast.

Step 4: Do It to It and Your Done.

Increase the brightness and contrast. See the the difference? Press ok when you done and then re-save the picture. It's just that simple and remember the Gimp is a FREE program. By the way that was an excellent instructable where the picture came from. It also never hurts to have some extra lamps to have more light on the subject.

Note: you can only see the difference if you have a failing monitor. Updated picture with newer monitor.

Step 5: Fixing Schematics

Sometimes I download  schematics and they are very hard to read. I found this quick trick to make things easier. If you do not have a program called the Gimp, download and install it. It's free!

Open up the picture with the Gimp. Go to "Colors" menu and then click on "Value invert". That is it, except for saving the picture.

Step 6: Removing the Squares.

Ever get an electronics diagram that has the checkerboard splotches? That is really a very easy fix. Load the picture into gimp.  Go to <Layer> then <Transparency> then <Remove alpha channel> then click it and your done. Save the picture.
You may have to convert it to gray scale first.

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    12 years ago on Introduction

    There are a few methods that you can use that prevent the photo from looking washed out like the one in your final step.  The easiest way is to use the Curves option (In the colors menu) instead of the brightness/contrast option.  You can adjust the curve to get a more precise adjustment of the image.  

    The more complicated but more effective way is as follows:
    1. Duplicate the original layer
    2. Desaturate the top layer to make it greyscale
    3. Invert the colors.
    4. Apply the gaussian blur filter with ~15-20 for the vertical and horizontal values.  At this point you should see a blurry black and white inverted image.
    5. Change the mode from the top layer from 'normal' to 'overlay'
    6. Select the bottom unedited layer and adjust the curve until the image is to your liking.

    With the more complicated method, you can really get a lot of detail out of almost completely black images.  Here is an example (this image was only taken with a 1.3MP cheap camera so you can only enhance it so much).


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    As a final step, if you adjust the transparency of the overlay layer, it will not appear so washed out.  It takes some tweaking to get things looking right.