Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dodge and Burn

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Dodge and burn is one of the most useful tools a photographer should have in his arsenal. Although it doesn't necessarily mean using the Dodge and Burn tool in the Photoshop Palette. Dodging and Burning can be achieved in a number of ways. It can be done by adding a Levels layer and masking parts of it over the image to isolate the effects. It can be painting white or black on a transparent layer and blending it on the image. However you want to do it, Dodging and Burning is just darkening or lightening up parts of an image.

Why use it? Dodge and burn has lots of uses. It can be to balance highlights, retain details, correct lighting, add depth or simply, make an image more dramatic. You will need to play around with this tool to really get a grip on its use. Using it regularly will help you find out when and where to use it.

Here are some samples of it's usage.

On Portraiture, it can be used to correct or improve lighting (instead of reshooting)

(Move your mouse over the images to view original pictures) Mara

Here I made the background darker but left some light across the face to direct the viewer's eyes onto the face of the model. This would have been difficult to do during the shoot with available light and limited equipment.

Dette's Masterpiece

Here, again, I burned the background to make the subjects pop out and add texture to it. Giving the image more depth.


Here, again, background darker, and, burned and saturated some parts of the face to add depth.


On Landscapes, it can be used to remove unwanted highlights, make the sky bluer and darker, add details (especially to the clouds), and more.


Here, made the sky darker and added detail to the clouds using the burn tool.

David on a Horse

Here, did some levels, saturation and a whole lot more. Dimmed the lights on the right part of the image to keep the attention on the subject.

I have more samples but I guess you get the idea.

Try to play around with the dodge and burn tool. Use it everytime you edit your photos, just so you'll have an idea how it affects your images. Once you master it, you'll wonder how you got along all this time without it. The bad side about it is, more wasted post-processing time.


weirdvis   You have the perfect touch. I'm very impressed with the way you have applied dodge and burn to these images. A step by step guide to how you achieved these effects - including before and after shots to demonstrate the subtle changes - would be useful. Any chance of that?
January 23, 2007, 7:04 pm
Michelle   galeng! thanks marcel! =)
January 23, 2007, 10:42 pm
nixtaytay   Great set Marcel, nice lesson too! Maybe you could show us the original pics, so that we could compare the before and after effects of dodge and burn, this way it would be much easier for the viewers to see your point of view in post processing these images.....PS: baka pwede ka na rin mainvite na magtalk sa camera club namin on this lesson! hehehe small talk lang naman =)
January 24, 2007, 7:25 am
nixtaytay   ahh..nakikita pla yung orig pic when you hover the mouse pointer over the pic! galeng, didnt saw that kanina! hehehe nice PP bro!
January 24, 2007, 7:29 am
Marcel   Hey Glitterdoll!!! Thanks!!!
Hey Nix! Nyay! I'm not very good with crowds. Hehe. Baka himatayin ako! Haha!
January 24, 2007, 10:06 am
Jason   Cool use of Dodge and burn, but wondering why you are doing that in many of these when lightness adjustments in Lab mode would serve the same purpose with less color destructive effects?
January 24, 2007, 11:53 am
Marcel   Yup. I agree. The dodge and burn tool is a bit destructive. And impossible to backtrack. I usually just use several levels layer with masking. No, I really haven't tried Lab mode, will experiment on this one of these days.
January 25, 2007, 8:47 am
Andrew   Hi! Great article! But now that I have seen what dodge and burn can do, Id like to know how to do it!
January 27, 2007, 1:15 am
ugaldew   I wish this were at SXC
January 30, 2007, 3:05 am
jo   Nice ah!
Though I haven't tried this yet, I'm really amazed by the outcome (especially with what you did the first portrait). Though I have to say that some are a bit too dark for me. hehe
February 7, 2007, 11:27 am
karlodl   ayos a Marcel, astig!

Nixtaytay.. if you mouseover the image, it turns into the original version
February 14, 2007, 4:14 pm
whisperedpeace   this was so helpful. thanks you.
February 24, 2007, 12:06 am
Kevin   First, it takes more than Photoshop to achieve your results - Creative. Very intriguing work! A less destructive way to use the burn and dodge tools is to create a new layer from the top menu. In the option window that appears, change the mode to "Overlay" and check the box next to "Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% gray). Choose an exposure of 25% and burn and dodge away! If you are unhappy with the results, just trash the layer and begin again. Thanks for the motivation!
April 16, 2007, 9:21 am
Russel   Hey! Galing ah. I've been trying to learn that. Masubukan nga hehe
April 29, 2007, 7:50 pm
Dino   Thanks for sharing!!
May 26, 2007, 7:37 pm
roast   this has been very helpful...great!
May 30, 2007, 1:34 pm
Au L   wow! ang galeng! that's pretty cool! i'm still learning the strings with a camera. have a pretty goo grasp of photoshop but i have never used the dodge and burn tool much. Now, i appreciate it a lot more.
July 3, 2007, 7:43 am
lovely   it is really very nice and i find it very useful for me..................thanks
February 22, 2008, 8:38 pm
RIPizzo   You are really good. I have tried the free Photoshop and it was fun while it lasted. Someday.

Anyway, your photos are great!
May 30, 2008, 1:13 pm
August 12, 2008, 1:52 am
Sila   thank you, thank you for the great photo's and results of the effects of dodge and burn!
October 23, 2008, 7:58 am
Anon   If you want to see the before picture, just place your cursor over the picture.
July 19, 2009, 1:17 pm
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