The first step in this quick process starts with the Recovery Slider (Note, this is what Aperture calls it - other programs have similar functions with different names). The key feature of this slider is that it's a "selective adjustment".
~A selective adjustment only impacts certain areas of the image, based on different criteria. The Recovery slider selectively reduces exposure and allows recovery of only the most "blown out" areas of the image~
The impact of this slider is significant as it pulls back the most overexposed elements of the image, beginning the process of recovering detail. We then adjust our second slider, exposure. Notice that we tweak this just about a third of a stop negative, to assist in our recovery. Go easy on this slider, and only use it after you've gotten everything you can out of the Recovery Slider. Exposure is a global adjustment, and will impact all areas of the image.
At this point in the image, you can start to see the blown out areas begin to tone down - but it looks like we still have a long way to go (as you can see in the image blow, sampled after these two adjustments were made).
Now, don't get discouraged yet! Even though the image still shows a long way to go, look at how much improvement we've really made - as indicated by the histogram.
So demonstrated progress has been made - and sets the foundation for everything else to come. With the highlights themselves now properly recovered, we're ready to move on to the most visible corrective adjustment. In Part 3 of this series we will focus on selectively recovering detail in the highlights - this is where the image really starts to "pop".
Stay in Focus,