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Brightness and Contrast in image processing

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Lighting of an image is an important aspect. It determines how well the picture is comprehended. While some aspects can also be set in camera, you can always edit your image in the processing stage to achieve the desired results. The two basic yet most important tools to adjust lighting in the pictures are Brightness and Contrast. Working on different areas and aspects of the same picture, they help you achieve the perfect picture which is neither too light or too dark.

How do Brightness and Contrast work?

Brightness is a measure of how light or dark your overall picture is. Adjusting the brightness of a picture affects all the pixels in a picture equally. Increasing the brightness makes the dark areas lighter and the light areas lighter too. Decreasing the brightness makes the light areas darker and the dark areas darker too.

brightness comparison, brightness increased and decreased, brightness example
Effect of increasing and decreasing the brightness

 Contrast on the other hand, is the ratio of the lightest point and the darkest point in the picture. Adjusting the contrast is increasing or decreasing the distinction between the light and dark areas of the picture.  Increasing the contrast increases the difference between the light and dark areas of the picture while decreasing it makes the picture look a little washed out.

contrast comparison, contrast increased and decreased, contrast example
Effect of increasing and decreasing the contrast

A proper balance of brightness and contrast is necessary for the picture to look aesthetically appealing and gives it a professional look. Also it makes the picture easy to understand. Brightness will be helpful if the image is overall light or dark since you cannot adjust certain selected parts of the picture. While contrast can help you if the picture has a lot of distinct light and dark points. You must be careful while adjusting the brightness if there are a lot of highlights in your picture since it may blow them out of proportion. While shadows have to be taken care of while adjusting the contrast. Adjusting these two parameters accurately may also bring out the actual colors of the picture, as you saw them while clicking the picture.
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