Any serious digital photographer (and even some analog ones) realizes that the in-camera capture isn’t the final step in creation of a photo; after capture there are post-processing decisions to be made about how to complete the image. Dodging and burning are two important processing techniques and Piet Van den Eynde’s new book Dodge & Burn: Leading the Eye with Lightroom and Photoshop explores this subject from a variety of angles.
There’s one big difference between Dodge & Burn and your typical Craft & Vision photography ebook: this one is offered in two packages. You can either buy the “Lite” option which contains the ebook along with a free “lite” version of EasyDodge, a custom Photoshop panel for easy dodging and burning. There’s also the “Full” package (which is what I reviewed) which contains the ebook and the full version of the Photoshop panel – we’ll get into the differences below.
Perhaps you’re wondering about the subject…
What is Dodging and Burning?
The author said it well:
If photography means painting with light, then dodging and burning is painting with light in post-production.
Don’t let the “post-production” there let you think this is something new… dodging and burning techniques were a staple of film photographers such as Ansel Adams. The book however focuses on the best ways to dodge and burn using Lightroom, Photoshop, and some plugins.
The Lightroom / ACR Scenarios
A tiered approach is taken to digital dodging and burning, looking at it first gobally across an image using Lightroom or Photoshop, then with local adjustments, and finally with plugins. After explaining the techniques in detail, the shortcut panel provided with the download is introduced.
For global adjustments, techniques are discussed for both Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw (included with Photoshop). While global adjustments aren’t really dodging and burning (which by definition is selective) it’s important to look at global exposure and contrast adjustments with respect to how they’ll provide a base for local changes.
As the discussion moves onto local adjustments, Van den Eynde focuses on two important tools within Lightroom: the graduated filter and the adjustment brush. Explanations of the analog past lead to how-to information for these digital tools. Unlike many Lightroom overviews or introductions, these tools aren’t glossed over or left at a superficial level… rather the author dives into the various nuances of each, explaining what some of those obscure switches and sliders do… and why you should care.
The explanations of tools and configurations are great, but what really makes this section work is a detailed, 17-step fully explained walkthrough of the processing of an image from beginning to end. It’s great to see what steps the author takes (and in what order) and what settings are used to produce a given result.
After exploring local adjustments with Lightroom, some discussion covers a few different plugins from Nik Software. Viveza and Silver Efex Pro are noted for their ability to do selective dodging and burning, but mention is also made of how Color Efex Pro has a great neutral density filter that’s a bit more full-featured than the one in Lightroom.
And Yes, Photoshop
After working through the Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw scenarios, attention is paid to Photoshop. I was pleased to see that the author isn’t a fan of Photoshop’s destructive dodge and burn tools, but rather uses an apporach involving layers and brushes which allows for finer control and the ability to make changes in a way that doesn’t destroy pixels.
At the conclusion of the Photoshop portion of the book, the shortcut panels are introduced. Regardless of whether you have the “Lite” or “Full” package, you’ll get some tools for making easier dodging and burning moves. Buy purchasing the Full package, you’ll get the contrast and clarity portions of the panel that really add some nice effects.
Dodging and burning aren’t necessarily sexy topics like off-camera flash or HDR, but they’re an important pair of tools for a photographer. I found the material in the book to be a good foundation for post-processing and making interesting images. Like other Craft & Vision ebooks, it’s priced quite affordably. I recommend adding it to your collection of photography education materials.
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