My Complete Dodging and Burning Workflow in Lightroom/ACR and Photoshop

My Complete Dodging and Burning Workflow in Lightroom/ACR and Photoshop


Table of Contents

1:43Determining the Mood/Intent
3:54Basic Tonal Adjustments
5:52Burning the Sky
9:58Local Dodging and Burning with the Brush
12:44Radial and Graduated Filters
14:21Tone Curve
15:33Color Dodging and Burning


Table of Contents

0:00Overview of the Dodging and Burning Workflow
2:43Setting Up the Burn Layer
5:37Why a Solid Color Adjustment Layer is Better than a 50% Grey Layer
10:53Using Curves to Add More Texture
13:35Setting Up the Dodge Layer for Light Painting
16:18Color Dodging and Burning
18:36Using Luminosity Masks to Prevent Washed Out Contrast
20:44Using Dissimilar Colors to Dodge and Burn a Color Image
23:37Tips on Burning a Color Image
26:27The Benefits of Using Curves to Dodge and Burn
29:54Repurposing Layer Masks

Dodging and Burning …

This is the most effective Photoshop technique for directing the eye through the frame. By manipulating light and shadow, we can literally draw a path for the eyes to follow by subduing distractions and enhancing our focal points. When done correctly, you can transform a strong composition into something extraordinary.

Because this is a powerful technique, the risk for side effects is also great. Muddy detail, loss of contrast, unwanted color shifts…these are all things you need to compensate for when dodging and burning. And sometimes, you may not even be aware that you are damaging your image until it’s too late.

So for this tutorial, I’d like to show you my new dodging and burning workflow that accomplishes two very important things:

  1. Minimizes the unwanted side effects of dodging and burning by protecting your image, and
  2. Grants you the most creative freedom while retaining the highest quality detail.

Both Lightroom and Photoshop have unique strengths and weaknesses…so depending on the image and your creative intent, you may be better off working in one program over the other (or perhaps a bit of both).

This lesson is pulled directly from Light and Shadow, my brand-new course on advanced-level dodging and burning for landscape photography…designed for those who would like to create more atmospheric images in Lightroom and Photoshop!

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Kevin McDonnell
Kevin McDonnell
2 years ago

Christopher, really looking forward to watching and practicing this. So really appreciated at this time, as regrettably NSW is in lockdown because of this Covid19 virus. So really looking forward.
Stay safe and sane in these strange times. Best wishes to you and your mother.