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Here's a novel way of lightening an image. Start with your image. Here's my wife, making a cup of tea. Duplicate the image. Invert the top layer. Now change the blend mode of this to Negation. The result is all white. Then switch to the bottom layer and add a curves adjustment. Pull right up the left hand node, then grab the middle and start pulling it down. The picture starts to lighten. Stop when it suits you. The effect is quite pleasing, without losing contrast or blowing out whites.