Photo editing masterclass: Adding emphasis with dodging and burning
September 10, 2016
A group of monks strolls through a town, enjoying a glass or more of wine, while one of them checks his phone. Dave Bowestead has captured an intriguing scene that invites you to create your own interpretation as to what exactly was happening. But for this photo to work effectively, it was necessary to carry out a lot of dodging and burning to add emphasis to the monks. I filled in the shadows and knocked back the over-bright areas to balance the tones in the image and keep the eye focused on the important areas of the scene.
1. Add a Graduated Filter adjustment
The main aim here was to balance the lighting in the photograph to produce an image in which the eye was drawn to the main action. I added a Graduated Filter Exposure darkening adjustment to mute the bright daylight illuminating the background street scene. You will also notice I applied a negative Highlights adjustment to reduce the highlight contrast.
2. Add Radial Filter adjustments
In this step, I added a lot of Radial Filter adjustments that selectively lightened the individual monks in this scene. The one that is currently selected here was used to apply a +1.75 Exposure adjustment combined with a +73 Shadows adjustment. With each Radial Filter adjustment I applied, I varied these settings slightly depending on how much lightening was required.
3. Basic panel adjustments
Having added all the main dodging and burning adjustments, I then went to the Basic panel, where I applied a warmer white balance. In the Tone adjustment section, I lightened the Exposure, darkened the Highlights and lifted the Shadows slightly. I also boosted the Vibrance to add a little more colour saturation to the photograph.