Dodging and burning in photography — Photography podcast #49

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #49 dis­cusses dodg­ing and burn­ing your pho­tographs. Dodg­ing means mak­ing parts of a photo lighter and burn­ing in makes parts of your pho­to­graph darker. Almost ALL pho­tographs require some dodg­ing and burn­ing. The images below by Yise­haq are great exam­ples. Look how much more alive image 2 looks after some dodg­ing and burning.

In terms of the actual tech­niques used to dodge and burn a photo you can try this one if you have Pho­to­shop. Cre­ate a new layer and set your blend­ing mode to soft-light or over­lay. Use an opac­ity of around 4–15%. Use a SOFT paint brush with these set­tings. To burn (darken) use black as the fore­ground colour in the palette. To dodge (lighten) use white as the fore­ground colour.

This pod­cast was inspired by Yise­haq a mem­ber of our pho­tog­ra­phy forum. Feel free to join — it’s fun and free! This pod­cast was recorded in a park. Please let me know if you found the ambi­ent noises too distracting.

Many thanks to Yise­haq for let­ting me use the above images of the Blue Nile as a teach­ing tool!

Post edited August 18 2008 — Adding 2 of my own images to fur­ther illus­trate the dif­fer­ence between the image after it comes out of the cam­era ver­sus the dodged and burned result. The result looks much live­lier and the main rea­son is the local dodg­ing and burn­ing. These are of the grand canyon and they are the same images from the pod­cast on delib­er­ately under­ex­pos­ing your images.

deliberate underexposure podcast
Image 1 of the Grand Canyon (leveling/quick colour balance)

Image 2 — after includ­ing quite a bit of dodg­ing and burn­ing and a quick sharpen.
After a while you’ll learn to see the poten­tial tones just wait­ing to come out.

Links/topics men­tioned in this pod­cast:
Orig­i­nal thread with Yisehaq’s images and com­ments
Photo assign­ment forum on

Thanks as always to Benoitc23, Benny and DeSte­fanoPho­tog­ra­phy for recent com­ments and sug­ges­tions. We LOVE com­ments and sug­ges­tions so please send more.

You can down­load this pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast directly by click­ing the pre­ced­ing link or lis­ten to it almost imme­di­ately with the embed­ded player below.

If you are look­ing at this mate­r­ial on any other site except — Please hop on over to the blog and pod­cast and get this and other pho­tog­ra­phy info directly from the source. I Sub­scribe with iTunes I Sub­scribe via RSS feed I Sub­scribe with Google Reader I