Dodge and Burn

posted in: Photography | 2
dodge and burn tools used on eucalptus leaf in monochrome
I don't want to take just any picture I want to capture a mood. I want to evoke an emotion and I want to create something that's atmospheric.


This is one of my short photography tutorials this time on using the dodge and burn tools in photoshop.


It's the part of the black and white conversion that separates the men from the boys!  ~ Joel Tjintjelaar

When it comes to black and white photography I just don't pick a black and white action in photoshop. Or choose a preset in Topaz BW effects. I also dodge and burn the final picture to give that little bit more definition.
We're all used to using the burn tool when we're working with eyes to give more definition. But have you thought of using it on your black and white photos?


Digital Darkroom


One of the great masters of photography back in the days of film was Ansel Adams. Furthermore he turned the dodge and burn into an art form in the darkroom.


Nowadays photoshop and other programs are our very own digital darkroom minus the chemicals. As a result we can do just what Ansel did with his images.

Dodge and Burn



If you've never used the tool before dodging makes the pixels brighter while burning makes the pixels darker.

  • I usually keep the exposure around 3% so that I can gradually darken or lighten particular areas as required.
  • You can also choose whether you want to work with the shadows, mid tones or highlights.
  • With this image I just brushed using the dodge tool on the highlights over the leaf in focus a few times with a large soft brush. 

This just lighten the leaf veins very slightly and gave greater definition to the network of veins before sharpening.


dodge and burn tool in photoshop cs5
dodge and burn tool in photoshop cs5
Follow Rosie Nixon:

Photography Tutor and Gardener

Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at one of Scotland's only photography galleries - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh.

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