Learn Advanced Photo Editing

How To Control Exposure With The Levels Tool

By Peter Latriano | Advanced Photo Editing Photo Editor Tutorials

Photo editing should never be complicated. But for years, complex programs have dominated the market, making photo retouching a specialized skill. Luckily, BeFunky is breaking through that barrier. By designing an incredibly easy-to-use Photo Editor, we’ve made photo retouching easy and accessible for you. A prime example of how we've done this is our Levels tool, which gives you complete control over exposure in your photos. At one time, the only way to exercise this kind of power over your image's appearance was through expensive and complicated photo editing software. But now, you can adjust the tonal ranges of your images, improve their exposure and take unmatched control over their appearance!

Bringing Simplicity to a New Level

Getting started is simple. Just upload an image to the Photo Editorscroll to the very bottom of the Edit menu and click on Levels. Next, decide whether you’d like to keep it simple with our Presets (we'll get back to these later on), or if you’d like to take complete control over how the Levels tool effects your image. If you decide you want more control, choose Adjust from the Levels menu.

How to use the BeFunky Photo Editor

Pro Tip: The ideal image for the Levels tool will have wide tonal range, with a variety of shadows and light types.

Set the Tone

With the Levels tool, you can set the tones for your images. For this next step, choose which channel you want to adjust. The channel is the layer of your photograph that stores information about color. There will be several options to choose from; one labeled RGB (red, green and blue), R (Red), G (Green) and B (Blue). Red, green, and blue are the three most basic colors, and together they compose the full range of tones in every photo. By selecting RGB, you will be able to control the full range of color in your image. When you select R, G, or B, you will only be able to control those specific tones in your image.

Adjusting Exposure and retouching photos with BeFunky

Pro Tip: If you are going to use R, G, or B, it's best to select an image that has an abundance of those tones to begin with.

Off the Chart Control

Next, you will adjust Input Levels. These are your image’s amount of shadows, midtones and highlights. To get started, take a look at the chart under Input Levels. This graph is called a histogram, and it shows the full tonal range of your image. Shadows are represented by the spikes on the left, midtones are in the middle of the chart, and highlights are depicted by the spikes on the right.

On the far left you'll see a black triangle, which represents the darkest area of your photo. When you drag it to the right, it will enhance your image's shadows and darken it's overall appearance. On the far right is a white triangle, which represents the lightest areas of your image. When you drag it towards the left, it will brighten your image's highlights and give it an overall lighter appearance.

How to read a histogram and use BeFunky

Pro Tip: If you selected R, G, or B, things work a little different. Drag the white triangle to the left to force all the tones of your selected color into your image's highlights, and amplify the overall presence of that color.

Define Your Range of Tones

To easily adjust exposure, the Levels tool lets you adjust the range of tones in your image. To do so, look beneath the Input Levels for a bar labeled Output Levels. This bar defines the diversity of color found in your photo. If you would like to eliminate the darkest tones from your image, drag the black triangle inwards. If you would like to remove the highlights from your image, drag the white triangle inwards. But be careful, with great control comes great responsibility! As you change the Output Levels, be aware that shortening the tonal range of your image will also decrease its contrast.

How to adjust tones and contrast with the BeFunky Photo Editor

Pro Tip: If you selected R, G, or B, moving the black triangle to the left will increase the presence of that color in your photo. Dragging the white triangle towards the right will decrease the presence of that color.

A Choice Photo Editing Tool

The Levels tool really does give you unmatched control over the way your photos look. You can adjust your entire image, or if you prefer, you can select Paint and only use the Levels tool on the parts of your photo that need it. If you choose Paint, you'll need to adjust Brush Size, Brush Hardness and Brush Strength. When they are set to your liking, hover your mouse over the parts of the photo that need editing and click.

Using the Paint feature to retouch photos with BeFunky

Pro Tip: If you make a mistake, you can always choose the Reverse and Erase option to undo your work when using the Paint feature.

Instantly Improve Your Images

Options and fully customizable settings are great, but for a quick and easy way to adjust the color levels in your photos, try our presets. Just click the dropdown menu under Presets, and choose one of the effects. You can instantly increase contrast, alter shadows and adjust the midtones in your photographs.

Alter contrast, shadows and midtones with BeFunky

Pro Tip: To turn your world upside down and create wacky images, try using the preset option Invert.

Final Results

Thanks to BeFunky, you no longer need expensive, complicated photo editing software to get expert results. Take advantage of the Levels tool today, and enjoy incomparable control over the way you edit images!

Final results from the BeFunky Photo Editor

Photo Editing, Simplified.

Photo Editing. Simplified