My photo
... is a freelance photographer working in Middle Georgia

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Burning and Dodging

Someone asked me what I meant when I referred to burning and dodging the other day. Burning and dodging are old terms from the old wet darkroom. When you were
printing, you either held back light from some areas of your print, or added more light, or exposure to other areas of the photographic paper to make your finished print look more evenly exposed.

You held back some areas(dodged) to keep them from getting too dark, and made some areas that were too light darker(burning). We all had our tricks and techniques, shaping your hands between the enlarger lens and the paper. Sometimes used hot water to speed up the development.

These two techniques were sometimes used only for the aesthetic value, to emphasize the subject.. I have spent an hour on a black and white print before making it like I wanted, wasting a whole lot of paper.

In photoshop it is more forgiving. Don't use the burn and dodge tools. Lighten and darken areas of the picture using curves or levels. Then go back and paint the changes using the history brush.

This photo had a bit of burning and dodging. I darkened most of the frame, trying to balance the exposure on the flower petals. The top ones were lighter than the bottom. I lightened the butterfly as well.

Give it a try sometime. Just be sure to save a an unchanged copy of your original.

1 comment:

TwilightCompanion said...

Everyone should have to learn how to process their own film and make prints in a darkroom. It gives you so much more appreciation for the process and the results, and it helped me develop my eye in photoshop as well. The kind of tricks we came up with for stealthily burning/dodging a particular spot in the picture (especially ones in the middle) were great. Of course, the lesson there was to take better exposures in the first place, and then you wouldn't HAVE to burn and dodge.. But I liked spending time in the darkroom. ;)

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