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Thread: Dodging and burning techniques

  1. #1
    DanK's Avatar
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    Dodging and burning techniques

    In response to some recent threads, I have been playing around with three different dodging and burning techniques in Photoshop that don't use the dodge and burn tools. Here's what I have come up with. I would be interested to see whether those here who have more knowledge of photoshop have some corrections or additions to this.

    All of this assumes that you dodge and burn in separate layers.

    1. Technique 1: create a neutral gray layer, paint with a black or white brush, and use a blend mode like overlay or soft light. I think this is the most common method, and it is the one I used until recently. I think it has nothing to recommend it over the other two, other than its simplicity. It adds or subtracts gray, and as Manfred noted, this affects saturation. AFAIK, there is no way to make a saturation adjustment to compensate just in the painted areas, or to make other adjustments only to the painted areas.

    2. Painting on a transparent layer with a black or white brush, using the same type of blend mode. I think John suggested this, but a very nice explanation can be found here. This too adds or subtracts gray, I believe. The big advantage over #1 is that you can adjust the saturation or any other attribute of the painted area. You can do that in either of two ways: creating a selection from the painted area, as shown in the video, or by making the subsequent adjustments a clipping mask.

    3. Manfred's technique: create a curves layer with a black mask and paint areas that you want to burn or dodge, with a normal blend mode. With this as well, you can adjust the painted area. One can use a clipping mask, as Manfred showed, or copy the mask from the burning layer to the subsequent adjustment layers.

    Manfred showed this to illustrate a way to compensate for unwanted saturation changes. I think one could avoid those saturation changes more simply by changing the blend mode to luminosity. I think this works with #2 as well, although I have just started playing with that.

    If I'm right so far, what are the pros and cons of #2 and #3?

    I think that in many cases, the choice won't make much difference. However--here I am getting further ahead of myself--I think there are circumstances in which #3 is superior. First, it doesn't require a uniform darkening or lightening. Manfred showed a mid-tone adjustment, which affects most of the histogram, although to varying degrees. However, one could use any curve one wanted and adjust some parts of the tonal range more than others--vaguely akin to using luminosity masks in a local adjustment. Second, if I am right, #3 does not add or subtract gray. It changes the distribution of luminance in the RGB channels. It seems to me that in cases where one wants large changes in luminance, this may be superior.

    Corrections? Other reactions?

  2. #2
    Merlin52's Avatar
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    Re: Dodging and burning techniques

    Hi Dan,
    Aaron Nace has some great Videos on Youtube to learn PS.
    Here are a couple, there are more techniques on his channel

    This is a quick technique,
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Poabgbtej8c

    This is one using "Blend If" modes of layers and is very smart.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GKDBXrpV8s

    John

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Dodging and burning techniques

    John - I think your analysis is fairly accurate.

    I have started testing your method 3 using a luminosity blending mode and am still not 100% sold on it. I find that burning and dodging have need the combination of changing both the luminosity and the saturation, but the changes in these two properties do not move in lock-step, so they can't be done in a single step.

    The other approach that I've started using lately is to use the method as I originally described, but rather than using a saturation adjustment layer, I stick with my burn or dodge layer and duplicate it (sometimes multiple times). Doing this seems to reduce the issues with saturation. If things go too far, I just bring back the opacity of the adjustment layer I just added until the look is what I want.

    If I use just a luminosity adjustment layer, the final colour does not look right, but sometimes using the normal adjustment layer + a luminosity layer using an identical layer mask seems to give good results.

  4. #4
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Dodging and burning techniques

    Quote Originally Posted by Merlin52 View Post
    Hi Dan,
    Aaron Nace has some great Videos on Youtube to learn PS.
    Here are a couple, there are more techniques on his channel

    This is a quick technique,
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Poabgbtej8c

    This is one using "Blend If" modes of layers and is very smart.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GKDBXrpV8s

    John
    John - I don't like either of the approaches that Aaron demonstrates for the following reasons:

    1. Dodging and burning are generally local issues and both approaches he gives are global ones. His methods may be quick, but they don't necessarily increase the shadows or highlights where they need to be. His example of the body builder is a very special case, and even here I don't think the results are what they should be.

    2. There are two reasons for dodging and burning:

    (1) To correct lighting issues in the image; and

    (2) To enhance parts of the image.

    This means that the existing highlights and shadows are likely not areas that you want to dodge and burn. This is where both methods, especially the blend if approach fail.

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    Re: Dodging and burning techniques

    Quote Originally Posted by Manfred M View Post
    ....

    2. There are two reasons for dodging and burning:

    (1) To correct lighting issues in the image; and

    (2) To enhance parts of the image.

    ...
    Number (2) is really where I am struggling and get lost more in the technique vice the creative side of Dodging and Burning. Right now I can look at an image and see where I need to "even" the light....but I cannot see in the image how Dodging and Burning can enhance the image. It can add depth and mood if done right and the right photograph.

    I struggle with the later mainly, in what is the right photograph...when should I try it, when will Dodging and Burning be ineffective. I believe this mostly to be experience. Lately I have been playing with Lumonisty Mask and D&B to see - generally I pick one of the Darks (like Darks 3) and burn the areas of the mask...not all, just some. I do the same for the Lights, and dodge the areas. This effectively adds very specific local contrast and seems to help. But I still have a long way to go.

    I have learned that there is not much use in D&B a middle of the day image with Flat Light...so I guess that makes my biggest lesson is the have the best light possible and then D&B can really have the potential to enhance the image.

    More to learn...

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    Merlin52's Avatar
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    Re: Dodging and burning techniques

    Another technique - this time using Lightroom - and one which I sometimes use to "sparkle" my photographs is shown here by YuriFineArt. It can get a bit involved depending on the level of detail you want but the principle is easy enough to pick up.
    I don;t know if there is equivalent tools in PS.

    https://youtu.be/eVIBHhsSsdE

  7. #7
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Dodging and burning techniques

    Quote Originally Posted by Merlin52 View Post
    Another technique - this time using Lightroom - and one which I sometimes use to "sparkle" my photographs is shown here by YuriFineArt. It can get a bit involved depending on the level of detail you want but the principle is easy enough to pick up.
    I don;t know if there is equivalent tools in PS.

    https://youtu.be/eVIBHhsSsdE
    Anything done in Lightroom can also be done in Photoshop as well. Both Camera Raw or the Camera Raw filter inside Photoshop have the same functionality as shown in the video.

    My only question would be why would anyone who uses these tools do so in Lightroom / ACR when Photoshop gives one access to far better and more sensitive tools? The main issue I have with the technique is that these edits done in ACR / LR are linear. This means if you want to go back and make corrections to the edits, you have to <Ctrl> / <Cmd> z back and do the fix and then re-apply all the intermediate steps.

    Photoshop with layers, adjustment layers, blending modes, curves, clipping masks offers far superior tools for this type of work. If you stick to editing in ACR / LR alone, then you have no other choice.

  8. #8
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    Re: Dodging and burning techniques

    This thread has become quite complex! My original question, which I see now I didn't make clear, was the pros and cons of those three methods--in particular, the practicality of making offsetting saturation changes and additional adjustments to the areas the photographer has chosen to lighten or darken. But for what it's worth, I'll chime in to the larger conversation.

    John, while I found all three of those videos informative, the first doesn't seem like dodging and burning. I use those terms the way they were used in the old days: intentional lightening or darkening of specific areas chosen by the photographer. The first of the videos is a global adjustment more along the lines of clarity or local contrast enhancement.

    Re LR adjustments: I found that video informative. I had never thought about the advantages of a radial filter over the adjustment brush for this purpose. Also, while I do make additional adjustments in the selected area, I hadn't thought to use the same selection for clarity adjustments or addition of specific color casts.

    Manfred, you wrote this:

    The main issue I have with the technique is that these edits done in ACR / LR are linear. This means if you want to go back and make corrections to the edits, you have to <Ctrl> / <Cmd> z back and do the fix and then re-apply all the intermediate steps.
    Perhaps in the ACR interface (which I rarely use), but not in the LR interface. If you open up the adjustment-brush dialog, little anchor buttons appear in the image indicating all previous adjust-brush edits, regardless of how far down the stack they are. You can select one and change the settings. (The LR history won't show the new net settings; it will add the adjustment to the original settings at the top of the stack.) Or you can simply right-click and delete the adjustments.

    John, I haven't tried the blend-if option, but it seems to me by itself, it is similar to my option #1, but with more control over placement and blending of the selected areas. It seems that it works by adding or subtracting gray. It would be similar to option #2 if it is possible to copy the painted areas into a selection that can be used to change saturation and other attributes. I haven't tried it to see if that can be done.

  9. #9
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    Re: Dodging and burning techniques

    Quote Originally Posted by Merlin52 View Post
    Hi Dan,
    Aaron Nace has some great Videos on Youtube to learn PS.
    Here are a couple, there are more techniques on his channel

    This is a quick technique,
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Poabgbtej8c

    This is one using "Blend If" modes of layers and is very smart.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GKDBXrpV8s

    John
    I like the Aaron Nance videos. It seems that he often provides the most simple technique for achieving the desired edits in Photoshop.

    However, for many edits, using the various NIK plug-ins for Photoshop work quite well for me. I use NIK Viveza for most of my simple edits and all of my complicated edits. Using both the "control point" and the "brush" in Viveza allows you to combine many types of edits in one fell swoop.

    https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...+in+NIK+Viveza
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 10th August 2017 at 03:02 PM.

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    Re: Dodging and burning techniques

    I have just watched a YouTube video which presents a way of "dodging and burning" in Photoshop that is completely new to me.

    I have not tried it but, hope to play with it tomorrow...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoXYynZ8cs8

  11. #11
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    Re: Dodging and burning techniques

    Interesting. The principle is the same as #3 in the OP. The main differences seem to be the severity of the curves adjustment and the extreme feathering. The latter I am intrigued by.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Dodging and burning techniques

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    I have just watched a YouTube video which presents a way of "dodging and burning" in Photoshop that is completely new to me.

    I have not tried it but, hope to play with it tomorrow...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoXYynZ8cs8
    This is a method I learned (and abandoned) years ago simply because it is so brute force.

    It gives you the dodge and burn quickly but I found that I would need a new layer for every dodge and burn stroke, in real life because the global aspect of feathering and changing opacity did not give me the subtlety I needed to get the images looking right.

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