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Illumination compensation and normalization play a crucial role in face recognition. The existing algorithms either compensated low-frequency illumination, or captured high-frequency edges. However, the orientations of edges were not well exploited. In this paper, we propose the orientated local histogram equalization (OLHE) in brief, which compensates illumination while encoding rich information on the edge orientations. We claim that edge orientation is useful for face recognition. Three OLHE feature combination schemes were proposed for face recognition: 1) encoded most edge orientations; 2) more compact with good edge-preserving capability; and 3) performed exceptionally well when extreme lighting conditions occurred. The proposed algorithm yielded state-of-the-art performance on AR, CMU PIE, and extended Yale B using standard protocols. We further evaluated the average performance of the proposed algorithm when the images lighted differently were observed, and the proposed algorithm yielded the promising results.