Burning and dodging

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by timothynugent619, Apr 4, 2017.

  1. What is dodging and burning? , how does it work and when should I do it?
  2. That's potentially a large question, Google it and you will find plenty of YouTube videos to show you.
  3. I see form another post you've made that you are using a chemical darkroom, you will still find info on line but maybe not so many videos.
  4. Rather then just refering you to some video, I'll try and expalin it to you (based on actual experience using this technique during many years of making my own prints)

    I assume you are familiar with how an enlarger works, to make a 'standard' print
    If you do the latter, so without dodging and burning, you'll often find that certain parts of the print end up washed out (over exposed on the negative, too light on the print) or too black (under exposed on the negative, and too black/dark on the print)

    Burning and dodging is the classic darkroom technique used with which to make a print in which the above effects are countered

    'Burning in' boils down to gving a certain part of the photo paper which is being exposed to the light of the enlarger, some extra exposure compared to the rest of the print
    The selection of the part is by the printer based on his interpretation of the negative, and on trial strips (partial prints on small pieces of photographic paper of certain parts of the image)

    You take a picture of a subject against a sunny, not necessarily bright sky.
    If you take the exposure on the subject and make the initial print with a 'correctly exposed (details in the highlights and shadows) subject, most likely the sky will end up overexposed (= loss of detail)

    The negative will give a main subject with details (blank parts and greyish areas for the shadows, black parts for the light areas like skin - with a causasian subject - and eg white clothing, and a much denser area for the background/sky

    In order to get a overall correct print (with details in both subject and background), you first begin to find the correct exposure time for the main subject
    by chosing a certain aperture on the lens of the enlarger, and by trial and error finding the correct exposure time (= amount of light) to end up with a corectly exposed image on the paper
    In order to avoid wasting paper all the time, you can simply do so by using a trial strip pf photopper which you place on the area of the main subject, expose and develop

    You now with a 2nd trial strip similarly find out how long you have to expose the photographic paper to get a correctly exposed (+ with details) background

    Best/easiest way to do so it keep the aperture of the lens in the enlarger unchanged, and extending the exposure time (more light on photographic paper means darker image) so much that that the background now gets a correct exposure (= details in that part of the image) too

    For the final print (keep in mind though that you'll probably will have to make several attemps before you end up with a 'good' one, so don't depair too soon) you first expose a full sheet of paper with the settings for a correct exposure of the main subject

    Then, without moving the paper, you make a second exposure with the settings found for getting a correct back ground
    This is burning in, i.e, giving part/the rest of the photographic paper extra light, to get a darker tone in the eventual print

    However, if you do so for the complete image, your main subject will end up getting too much light, which with a print means getting too dark, which obviously is not what you're after)

    To avoid that you now have to keep light away during the exposure of the photographic paper. in other words you dodge away the light from that area (= dodging)

    To do so, you block the light which otherwise during the 2nd exposure would reach that part of the image (and make it too dark), either with your hand(s) or a small piece of eg cardboard, black paper or whatever you might have at hand (back in the days eg Paterson - from the film development tanks - sold pre cut shapes).

    To have a more natural effect/border of the area you burn in or dodge, you will have to slightly move/shake that piece of cardboard during the 2nd exposure, so the borders get somewhat blurred.

    If the area is more in the middle of the area, you could tape the piece of cardboard on a stick, to avoid accidently covering up too much of the image other then the area intended

    It really is as simple as it sounds, but demands effort and experience to do well
    (that is something the youtube videos don't tell you, they make it seem easy, the usual ' just do what I did' nonsense )
    timothynugent619 likes this.
  5. thank you for explaining Paul !
  6. Great explanation Paul well beyond my capability. Like I said a large question.

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