When developing an “old fashioned” photograph in the darkroom, the photographer wasn’t always sure that the film he was working with was properly exposed. Simply put, when exposed film is developed, will the light be distributed evenly? Often this wasn’t the case, so the photographer had to develop on-the-spot techniques to ensure a good product. One such technique is the burn and dodge method. Photoshop has adopted these two methods in a simple tool.
The “dodge” part of the tool is used to lighten dark areas of the photograph that may have been over exposed. Think of Dodging as blocking the overhead light in the dark room from certain areas of the photo, allowing those areas to become less exposed and thus lighter. In Photoshop this can be achieved by clicking on the Dodge tool, setting the desired size, and exposure level and then “clicking” on dark, over exposed areas of the photo. This tool is particularly good for lightening up darker objects and bringing out detail. An example would be to help bring out definition on face on an all black dog.
In contrast the burn tool is used to darken over exposed areas of a photograph. This tool can be likened to covering an entire photograph save one small area and allowing that area more light than the rest. In photoshop if you right click the Dodge tool then chose the Burn tool. Then again choose your desired size and exposure and click on the area one wishes to darken. This technique can be used on a photograph taken with a whited out area, such as someone wearing a white shirt on a bright sunny day. Hovering the Burn tool over these areas will darken them and bring out more detail.
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