What's it all about?

This blog is about photography and photoediting. Its purpose is to provide hints and tips and links to interesting and useful resources for digital photographers, regardless of their level of expertise or experience. It is aimed at people who use digital SLR cameras and who process their images using the latest versions of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

The author of this blog is Glenn Springer and you can read more about him at his web portal at faczen.com. Information on workshops, and links to everything is at photography.to. Glenn's original blog, which is an ongoing journal of his photographic meanderings goes back to 2006 and contains many additional hints and tips, as well as representative images that he has made. Gallery quality prints are available through his Smugmug gallery site. It is an interesting place to visit to see a variety of quality images, as well as an ongoing general journal of photos going back several years.

Photography workshops are scheduled every few weeks starting in the Spring. For an overview of what's happening, please visit the photography.to website.

The most recent blog post is below. Scroll down to the bottom to see the list of previous postings or search for any particular topic.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Non-destructive Dodge & Burn in Photoshop

I came across a really neat trick the other day and I would attribute the concept if only I could remember where I read it! I didn't come up with this, I found it but it's so neat that I had to share.

You can always dodge (lighten) and burn in (darken) non-destructively by creating a duplicate layer and working on that layer not on the original or background layer. But if you want to change the effect, you have to do it the whole layer at once.

This trick works just like painting on a mask: you can reverse the effect by switching the colour (black or white or a shade of grey) that you're painting with. Here's how it works.

Open an image you want to work on and create a new layer

Fill the layer with 50% grey

Change the blend mode to "Overlay" (you can also use "Soft Light") and rename the layer "Dodge & Burn Overlay" so you don't forget what it is.
         Here's how it works. In overlay mode (or soft light), blending 50% grey with your image has no effect. However if you LIGHTEN that grey, it SCREENS your image, or lightens it. If you DARKEN the grey, it MULTIPLIES the layers or darkens it.

Use a brush at relatively low opacity (say 20%)

Paint with black or dark grey on the overlay layer in those areas you want to darken

Paint with white, or lighter grey, in those areas you want to lighten.

Of course, you're looking at your original image while you're painting. If you turn off all the other layers, here's what the overlay layer might look like after you've painted on it:

Want to lessen the effect? Switch colours (the "X" key will toggle between the foreground and background colours) and paint over the area you want to change. Don't like what you've done? Paint with 50% grey and the changes are gone.

This works for saturation too! Not quite the same way, though. Create another blank new layer, and change its blend mode to "Saturation".

ANYTHING you paint on that layer will reduce the saturation of what's underneath it – doesn't matter what colour you paint with. Use a low opacity brush and paint over the offending brightly coloured bit. If you do too much, use the eraser tool on the saturation layer.

A really slick method of non-destructive dodging and burning that gives you precise levels of control, and it's easily reversible.

Here's an image I shot today that I used this technique on:

The rock in the foreground was too dark so I dodged it. The embankments in the distance were too light, so I burned them in. The orange leaves near the bottom were too brightly saturated. The rock face on the right needed to be darker. I made all these gentle changes by painting on the Dodge & Burn or the Saturation layers I created. The whole thing took 5 minutes, not including doing screen captures for this article!
This image itself wasn't that simple. It was a 5-shot HDR created in Photomatix Pro 4, then imported into CS5. These were slow exposures shot at ISO 100, with an 8x ND filter on the lens and aperture set to f/29. Shutter speeds ranged from 1/13 sec to 1.3 seconds. I selected the water and put it on a new layer and then applied Topaz Adjust 4 smoothing to it. I selected the underlying layer (everything else) and applied Topaz Adjust but in detail mode to that layer to bring out some sharp details. I did the dodging and burning I described above. Back in Lightroom, I used the adjustment brush to further soften the water, and we're done.

I'm not sure I got the effect I really wanted, but it's pretty close to what I had in mind.

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