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Thread: Dodge and burn questions...

  1. #1

    Question Dodge and burn questions...

    How often do you dodge & burn, particularly in Photo-shop, and to what degree?

    I'm reading an interesting article (during work ) illustrating the use of D&B to adjust exposure in areas to increase contrast to liven up dull/flat images; dodge highlights and burn shadows.

    I'm assuming the opposite is recommended to reduce contrast as well; dodge shadows and burn highlights.

    I guess my question is are these tools better used to decrease contrast or increase contrast? What are your experiences.

    If some can provide images as examples, all the better.

    Thanks in advance for all replies/insights/recommendations.

  2. #2
    bob carnie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Toronto, Ontario,

    Re: Dodge and burn questions...

    I use curves to adjust contrast, this tool is very powerful and it is where I would set my basic Contrast.
    There is many ways to dodge and burn in Photoshop , everyone will have their best methods, to enhance areas or lighten.
    I use the blend modes for a lot of this, Multiply to burn, Screen to dodge, and Soft Light to increase midtone contrast.
    But the tools available are so great you can do any type of function at least four ways.

    I take the approach to make my digital edits look very much the same as how I would work on an enlarger, Therefore I dodge and burn every image.
    How much , well thats personal and is dictated by what you want to convey in your work.

    When I started in PS I was intimidated by the program and it took a couple of years to find my way around, I did a lot of workshops and edited my own work , printed it , then 6 months later redid the files from scratch to see if there was improvement.
    I later found that by learning the numbers , specifically the LAB info palette things got a lot easier.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Re: Dodge and burn questions...

    You are asking about dodging and burning large format negatives, of course, where the process has to start with a scan anyway.
    In the case of a bad negative, you might as well do three scans (shadows, mids, and highlights) and run them through a tone-mapping program like photomatix.
    With a good negative, as Bob says, 'curves' do the trick.
    With a dodgy negative, 'lighten & darken' is an easier tool to work with because photoshop does highlight and shadow masking for you.
    Here's an example of tone mapping a 4x5 negative with awkward reflections and detailed whites:
    Attachment 73203

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Baraboo, Wisconsin

    Re: Dodge and burn questions...

    For global contrast adjustments when printing I mostly use Curves, occasionally Levels. But I don't need to make global contrast adjustments very often. More commonly I adjust local contrast and I do that by painting on a new layer (i.e. not using the Photoshop dodge and burn tools, which I understand destroy pixels). It's a very rare print to which I make no local contrast adjustments at all.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    South Texas

    Re: Dodge and burn questions...

    I start with a global Curves adjustment layer then make feathered selections and add additional adjustment layers on top of that. I don't use the Dodge/Burn tool.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    Re: Dodge and burn questions...

    The actual Dodge and Burn tools are remnants of the earliest crude version of the program. I'm surprised they haven't updated them. With color, they tend to make things muddy.

    The Photoshop "paint" tools are powerful, especially if you learn to use a Wacom pressure sensitive tablet. Most people will make a second layer with the extreme adjustment, add a layer mask, and then use the erase tool in brush mode (as a painting tool) to erase parts of the mask gradually and selectively. It allows nice feather blends and is editable/non-destructive to the original.

    If you work fast and confident you can also use the History Brush. Make your move, save a "snapshot", undo, then use the History Brush to paint from the snapshot in the history menu.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Aug 2000

    Re: Dodge and burn questions...

    Do I use dodge and burn techniques to enhance images? Of course. I also use contrast masking, pre-flashing, bleaching and intensifying and a wide variety of other techniques.
    I do none of this on the computer, but in the darkroom which it where it all started and is still produces more beautiful results.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    South Texas

    Re: Dodge and burn questions...

    The OP asked about Photoshop.

  9. #9
    Mike Anderson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    San Diego

    Re: Dodge and burn questions...

    I use curves adjustment layers with layer masks (and paint on the layer mask as Frank describes above). There are so many techniques but the important thing is to keep all the modifications or adjustments in a separate layer (or layers), then you can be slightly heavy handed with the adjustments and dial them back by reducing the opacity of the adjustment layer.
    Mike → "Junior Liberatory Scientist"

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Petaluma, CA

    Re: Dodge and burn questions...

    It's sort of hard to answer your question since I don't know your level of experience in Photoshop. The basic tonal adjustment is to use a curve adjustment layer and move the curve up or down. The second part of it is to isolate some portion of the screen with a mask. A mask is simply a selection. The good thing about photoshop is that a selection can be modified, painted curved, etc. If you don't have a Wacom tablet, get one.

    I would never use the dodge and burn tools, and I don't ever use levels, either.

    There is another technique that is considered the "burn and dodge" technique in PhotoShop. You create a new layer, fill it with 50% gray and change the blending mode to Overlay (or soft light or hard light). Then you use the brush tool to paint at a very low opacity, somewhere between 1 and 15. If you paint black at this level you burn, if you paint white you dodge.

    The great thing about layers is if you don't like the result, you can modify it, or throw the layer away. In this example, you can refill it with 50% gray. Nothing has happened to the image.

    Hope this helps,

    Museum Quality Drum Scanning and Printing

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