COLOR GRADING IN LIGHTROOM
Take a deep dive into the beautiful and dramatic effects that color grading in Lightroom can add to your B&W and color photos.
Online Class Starts in:
Dodging and burning are two of the oldest, and likely still the best tools in landscape photography to control the light of a captured photo. You’ll find these tools available in one form or another in just about every photo editing software out there. I dodge and burn nearly every landscape photo I create. Ansel Adams was even famous for spending hours in the darkroom manipulating the light and dark areas of his landscape photos. One of the reasons his imagery was so powerful was because of how he masterfully controlled shadows, mid-tones, and highlights. Dodging & Burning simple post processing technique can be used to alter how the eye flows through an image. It essentially alters the light that was recorded in the original photograph by toning down highlights, brightening shadows, or vice versa.
So what does it mean to “dodge” or “burn” an image? Dodging simply refers to making an area of your image brighter while burning refers to darkening portions of your image. It’s pretty easy to mix up the two as a beginner. I just remember that when I burn my toast, it gets dark… therefore burning is making my image darker. Ok… that’s kinda lame but hey, whatever works!
As lansdscape photographers, we do not have the option of bringing soft boxes and reflectors to photograph a mountain range or a waterfall. We have to work with the light that is provided to us in the field. Our next best option to control light is in our post-processing workflow. I’ll briefly cover the two most popular programs but know that these tools are available in many places… even in apps on your phone.
Brushes in Lightroom perform the dodging and burning for landscape photography. You add a brush, lower the exposure for a burning effect, and simply start painting the darkness into your image. You have to use another brush with a brighter exposure setting, to dodge areas of your image.
I prefer to do all of my dodging and burning for landscape photography in Photoshop with an overlay layer. It takes a moment to create this layer, but if you take the time to create a Photoshop action for this process, it can be quickly accessed with the click of a button. You can certainly get into more complex manipulation of the light and dark areas through Luminosity Masking, but I consider that an advanced technique to be covered sometime in another post. Let’s start with the simple one.
Here is an example of a before and after the use of this simple, yet powerful technique. The Image #1 on the left is straight out of camera. The Image #2 on the right had about one minute of dodging and burning done to it.
With the opacity of the brush so low, the effect is cumulative. Start subtly and build it up as you see fit. It’s an easy way to make dramatic changes for your landscape photos, to add contrast, paths of light, and focus attention on your subject.
Have fun with your dodging and burning. It’s up to you how you want others to perceive your images.
Kate is a professional landscape photographer and educator based in Charleston, SC. Her intense passion for the natural world is matched only with her desire to share that passion with her students. "Being a great photographer is not about what kind of camera you own. It's about studying the light, crafting a great composition, and expressing your vision through practice and education"