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I took some photos of a document with my iphone. Everything is perfect except the colors, the certificate looks great in the middle, but on the side it looks dark, darkness increasing spherically towards outside, the camera points directly towards the center of the page when photo is taken.

I tried maxing out the brightness and contrast in gimp, until a level so that I can atleast read the important part. This removed the darkness, but it made the text in middle also very light. How can I remove the darkness as well as prevent the text from becoming very light?

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Duplicate the layer and do the correction for the dark edges on that. Remove (and feather) the inside portion from that layer, then you should have text in the middle they way you need it and the edges lighted up.

ps: you could also do it with a mask - not sure about the exact particulars though.

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