Dodge and Burn: how to master one of the most vital photo editing skills

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Adjustable Dodge and Burn

Adjustable Dodge and Burn

Dodging and burning is a convenient method of darkening and lightening selected areas of an image, but the same thing can be achieved using a Curves Adjustment Layer and applying a Layer Mask. This approach protects the original image and allows the end result to be edited at any time.

Create the Adjustment Layer via Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Curves and adjust the curve to darken or lighten the areas that need attention.

Dragging the curve up lightens the image while dragging it down darkens it. You can make a fairly extreme adjustment because its effect will be moderated by the Layer Mask created by clicking on the Mask tab in the Layer Control Panel and clicking on the invert option.

This reverts the image to its original form and you can paint in the effect using a white brush at low Opacity. If you make a mistake, simply switch to a black brush and paint the original image back in.

Setting the Curves Adjustment layer’s Blend Mode to Luminosity protects the colours from being affected by the adjustment.

PAGE 1: What is dodging and burning?
PAGE 2: Get to know the Dodge and Burn tools
PAGE 3: Adjustable Dodge and Burn
PAGE 4: Dodge and Burn in Camera Raw and Lightroom

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