I have these two images - the same shot - but one is slightly darker than the other: enter image description here

How do I match the lighting/colours in the image below so it matches the lighter image above in GIMP? enter image description here

  • To what end? Why can't you simply use the lighter shot?
    – Scott
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 7:35
  • For clarity, these are not exactly equivalent pixel for pixel so pixel based operations are out of the question - it has to be using colour manipulation tools of some sort. I am sure this is a very basic problem to solve for a graphic artist, but I am not one....
    – skeetastax
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 7:35
  • Thank you @Scott, I am also not a photographer and I can't retake these shots. I tried taking a variety of photos using different camera settings too and these were the closest I could get. The images posted are not the full images, I have taken a selection of a common area from both photos as there are private details in the other half of the shot that must remain private.
    – skeetastax
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 7:38
  • Ahh okay :) out of frame content varies. That makes much more sense :)
    – Scott
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 7:39
  • 1
    I don't know GIMP, but a simple Curves (or Levels) adjustment in Photoshop to bring up the mid point seems to work well. - I flipped the dark image on the right so the asphalt was side by side for visual comparison. There is an area at the edge of the dark image that would present the need for some more refined adjustments (masking edits) there. But other than that, it's pretty similar with the mid-tone tweak.
    – Scott
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 8:01

3 Answers 3


Solution 1

Adapt this tutorial to work with lightness

Solution 2

Variant A:

  • Stack the two images as layers (with the reference image at bottom),
  • Set the top layer to Difference mode (this also makes it easy to align the images, because if the layers are misaligned the edges are very bright) enter image description here
  • Use Brightness-Contrast, Levels, or Curves tool to make the result as black as possible. enter image description here enter image description here
  • And then of course set the result to Normal mode.

Variant B:

  • Stack the two images as layers (with the reference image at bottom),
  • Add a layer mask to the top layer, and paint it blakc where you want the reference layer to show (I just masked off one half but you can do more fancy things) enter image description here
  • Adjust luminosity until the difference between the layers is hardly visible (make sure the tool is acting on the layer and not on the mask) enter image description here
  • Delete the layer mask when done.
  • wow...that is amazing! Thank you so much.
    – skeetastax
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 9:08

One possibility is to do some tone mapping on it. Using your bottom image, here I used Colours > Tone mapping > Fattal. In the filter I reduced the opacity to reduce the overall effect. What this does is basically lightens the shadows without blowing out the highlights.

enter image description here

You can experiment with the other tone mapping filters too. This one is Mantiuk, which looks a little more contrasty.

enter image description here

Another possibility is to stack both images as layers (assuming they are in exactly the same position), then add a layer mask on one. Here I have the darker image on the bottom layer. I selected the top lighter image layer, used the lasso select tool to select just the garages, then added a layer mask from selection. Basically, combining both images, but masking out part of the top lighter layer which has blown out highlights.

enter image description here

And finally, you could combine both of the above techniques, using some tonemapping on the lighter masked image, to bring recover the shadows even more.

enter image description here


This is a too long comment.

Adjusting photos for letting others make comparisons between the contents of the images is not a good idea if the reason for the comparisons is to find facts. Artistic comparison is a different thing and there's already good answers about editing for it.

Every adjustment you make removes some information. Do not expect that edited photos cannot be proven to be edited ones. Photos may have some evidence value in a court of law or forensics if they are still in their original capturing device with all device dependent things intact and with no traces of edits. Of course, edited photos also have some evidence value, but that's probably something totally different than what the editor wanted.

If you are going to create an illusion in Facebook or other common social media for people who are not the sharpest axes in the world, you may succeed with edited images. You only must remember to give something that the target audience wants to see, something they (maybe silently) already believe and now there's the final evidence.

Checking the authenticity of a photo is a profession. If it happens that you want to prove someone else has made a fake photo to raise harms for you, you probably need professional help. You may be able to make a perfect fake lookalike of the harmful photo, but it does not prove that the original is a fake. If no plausible 3rd party forensic work is done the claims of which photo is a fake and which is not stay opinions. The final result depends on beliefs.

Technical: If you shoot 2 images of the same scene with different camera settings or in different light conditions the resulted JPGs can be so different that no adjustment makes them same. The automatic conversion to JPG in the camera is extremely tricky process which is designed to make photos which have a possibility to look good. But that process removes so much information that no adjustment makes the JPGs equal. Some adjustments can make them look the same at the first glance, but a quick analysis reveals the existence of edits.

Shooting RAWs gives more possibilities to generate more close JPGs manually from the RAW images. But they will not be the same exactly. It's only difficult to decide which one resembles more the original scene in front of the camera. A photographer who succeeds to make a shot which contains something wanted and possibly unwanted for some others should have the RAW image as an evidence of "this is not edited". Making a fake RAW photo of a scene which cannot be repeated by staging and using actors needs so specialized tools and knowledge that it's out of reach for ordinary camera owners.

Something maybe worth reading:

  1. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/5-ways-to-spot-a-fake/
  2. https://shotkit.com/image-photoshopped/

Making a web search brings up much more, if the subject is interesting.

  • Thanks - I hear what you are saying. "...if they are still in their original capturing device with all device dependent things intact and with no traces of edits..." - you are spot on here...and this is an important point that will be raised. My images are to prove a particular point. They do not contain information pertaining to the event around which the case is based, but they will serve to highlight an issue with the evidence being relied upon by the other party.
    – skeetastax
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 10:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.