Dodging and Burning

The purpose of this exercise was to teach the techniques of dodging and burning, ways of darkening or lightening areas of a photograph.

I found that the details in the course description was a bit sketchy to say the least, unlike the instructions in the exercises that followed. As I’m using both Photoshop and Lightroom a lot during this course I invested in some books to help me get my head around using various features as I come across the need for them [References 1 and 2]

Pages 70 – 75 provide details of how to perform dodging and burning but rather than use Photoshop itself, the author has used Camera Raw. The steps detailed were very clear and easy to follow.

Exercise 2.6-4932
Unedited photograph
Exercise 2.10 Dodging and Burning_processed
Edited to apply dodging and burning to the sky, polo shirt, arms and head.

In the original photograph it is not easy to see clouds in the sky, the processed image still doesn’t really show clouds but if there had been then the process of burning would have brought them out.

The changes to Matt’s head and arms and polo shirt make him stand out a lot more from the background and enable you to see more detail in his face and also allow the tattoo on his arm to be seen a lot more clearly.

The techniques described in the Photoshop book [Reference 1] were clear to follow and allowed for a lot more fine tuning of the image so that the end result is a lot more satisfying.

Pages 192 – 197 of the Lightroom book [Reference 2] describe the process of dodging and burning within Lightroom. The process is very similar to the one used in Camera Raw with the exception that you can’t change Vibrance.

The photograph below was edited using Lightroom.

Exercise 2.10 - Dodging and Burning - Lightroom-4932

Of the two I prefer the one from Camera Raw, although it’s just a matter of practice using both applications.


1. Kelby, S., (2017) the Adobe Photoshop CC book for digital photographers. New Riders (ISBN: 978-0-134-54511-0)

2. Kelby, S. ; (2015) the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC book for digital photographers. New Riders (ISBN: 978-0-13-397979-4)

3 thoughts on “Dodging and Burning”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s