An introduction to dodging and burning

by Gannon Burgett

posted Friday, March 20, 2015 at 10:06 AM EDT


Dodging and burning are two of the oldest techniques for adding depth to your images in post-production. Originally done in the darkroom by using an instrument to block the light of the enlarger, dodging and burning has made its way into the digital realm, where it can be done with a click or two in Adobe Photoshop’s menu.

As simple as dodging and burning may be in theory, editing your image just right can prove to be a difficult task, even in the digital world where you immediately see your results. To help with that, photographer Jeff Rojas has created this six-minute video, in which he introduces the basic concepts and workflows for effectively dodging and burning your photos to perfection.

There are multiple methods of dodging in burning, but in Rojas’ video, he opts for a non-destructive workflow, which relies on two curves adjustment layers and the brush to effectively ‘paint’ in the places you’d like more or less exposed. This method allows for more flexibility than Photoshops built-in dodge and burn brushes, as you can increase or decrease the layers’ exposure, even after you’ve painted in the locations you’re adjusting.

You can find more Photoshop videos from Rojas on his YouTube channel.