Dodge and Burn: A First Attempt

Last year, I set myself the challenge of learning more editing techniques and while I posted quite a few images that highlighted my developing skills, there were a few that I just did get round to trying. One of those was dodge and burn.

For those of you who don’t know, dodge and burn is a technique that goes right back to the days of film processing where you would brighten (dodge) and darken (burn) certain areas to give contrast and help bring out certain elements of the image. It would also help to direct the viewer what the the photographer considered to be the main subject. Deciding to give this a go, I first need to find an image so going through last year’s images I came across a couple that I thought might work. One was of a deer and the other, as you will see was a bird of prey.

As this was to be my first go, I felt that this image would be most suited as there wasn’t too much else going on apart from the bird. Thinking about the composition, I began to try different cropping and then settled on the one you see. Next, I began to use the adjustment brush in Lightroom to start to ‘burn’ the green background. This was tricker than I imagined as not only did it require a steady hand (especially on the edges) but also a variation in the exposure, flow and density settings was required.

As you can see from the first image shown below, when I brought the exposure up the first time, some of the green was still there. Once I had removed this, I reduced the contrast to enable me to re-check the edges near the feathers and then used ‘dodge’ to brighten the eyes.

So, will I use dodge and burn again? Having seen it’s potential, I definately think so. As ever, would love to hear your thoughts.

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