Essential Techniques of Dodging and Burning

Dodging and burning, the art of selectively lightening or darkening parts of an image, is a foundational technique in photography. Understanding this method is essential for photographers aiming to control the visual narrative and emphasis within their work.

Coming to you from David Bergman with Adorama, this informative video elucidates the historical background and modern applications of dodging and burning. Bergman begins by explaining the origins of these techniques in darkroom film processing, where photographers would manipulate exposure on specific parts of an image to achieve desired lightness or darkness. This foundational knowledge is vital for understanding how these practices have evolved with digital tools. Bergman then transitions to contemporary methods, demonstrating how digital platforms like Photoshop, Lightroom, and Capture One enable photographers to apply these techniques with precision and flexibility. His explanation underscores the significance of dodging and burning in the digital era, highlighting their role in refining an image's aesthetic and directing the viewer's attention.

Bergman offers practical insights into the application of dodging and burning, using examples from his own work as a concert photographer. He describes how he uses these techniques to emphasize important elements in his images, such as a subject's facial expression or to reduce distractions in the background. Bergman's approach, focusing on subtly altering brightness and contrast to guide the viewer's eye, illustrates the power of these techniques in storytelling through photography. This part of the video is particularly instructive for photographers seeking to enhance the narrative and emotional impact of their images. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Bergman.

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Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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