Dodge and burn – powerful light/shadow effects
Two of the oldest techniques in the photographic skill set are dodging and burning. In the old days of chemical baths and film developing they were the most effective way of changing the image out of camera. Simple stuff really. During the development of your film you allowed parts of the developing film to become overexposed. Other parts of the film you allowed to become underexposed. The effect on the final print was to increase the brightness in some areas of the film and darken others.
In modern post-processing we still use these techniques. Most post processing software packages have ways to create dodges (whitening or brighten) or burns (darkening or blacking). The aim of this? Well its simple really. If you have a picture and you want to do any of these things you need these techniques…
- Increase/decrease the intensity of shadowy parts of the image
- Increase/decrease the intensity of brighter parts of the image
- Brighten the bright spots and darken the dark spots to increase contrast
- Darken down intensely bright spots in the image to prevent distractions
- Brighten the darker areas in the image to bring out detail
- Pick out highlights
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Dodge and burn
Although this tutorial is based in PhotoShop, most of the techniques shown in this video can be used in most editing software. If your software does not have the same tools as those found in PhotoShop check your help files for more information.
You may have to do some trial and error experiments to get these techniques working – after all, the practice will give you control of your software. Trying out these skills will give you the basic command of light and dark in the post processing context. Dodging and burning are really important techniques. Watch the video for how the techniques are used.
Photoshop dodge and burn
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