Burning in Photos

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by mcurley, Oct 30, 2019.

  1. In my photography class, there are some pictures I was told I need to burn in, specifically the spots that are really bright/white. I have tried it a few times but can't seem to figure out a good way to do it proficiently. Any tips or advice that can help me with this? Thanks!
  2. Try here:

    If you don't like her hair, there are other videos you can watch. ;)
    mcurley likes this.
  3. If you are printing on 8x10" paper you can just use your hands to block ie. dodge the light from the areas that don't need as much light. Just keep moving your hands so it won't leave noticeable edges around were your doing it ie. burning. The photographer in the above video is well respected and has useful information on her youtube channel. There's also Darkroom Dave who was a printer for Ilford. Just search for darkroom printing. Keep at it and you'll be happy.
    mcurley likes this.
  4. Are we talking about wet-printing and doging/burning under an enlarger, or about virtual dodging and burning with photo-editing software?

    The dodging and burning brushes available in most editors are pretty crude and rubbishy. The method I prefer is to create a new duplicate layer; alter its tone using curves or levels, and then rub through the new layer with the eraser brush (at a low opacity) to leave the altered tone adjustment where it's needed.

    For wet printing, a few rough circles or ovals of torn - not cut - cardboard taped to bits of garden wire take care of dodging. For burning you can cup your hands to let through a circle of light, or tear a hole in the centre of a fairly large sheet of card. The timing and movements needed are purely down to practise and experience I'm afraid.

    However, if you're taking a class; shouldn't it be your tutor's job to show you how to dodge and burn?
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2019
    mcurley likes this.
  5. I agree with rodeo_joe: why isn't your instructor helping you with this?

    In wet darkroom work, I used techniques on rodeo-joe's list. For dodging, I used a piece of cardboard fastened to the end of a stick. For burning, I used a large piece of cardboard with a hole cut in it.

    In digital work, there are lots of tools for dodging and burning, and they differ somewhat from one software package to another. For minor edits, I often use the adjustment brush in Lightroom. For more precise work, I usually use a brush and mask in Photoshop, but unlike Rodeo Joe I don't use a duplicate layer. Just add a curves adjustment layer, brighten or darken by pulling the curve up or down until the area you want to change is roughly correct. Then turn the mask black to turn off the adjustment and gradually paint on the adjustment using a white brush with low hardness and a flow rate of 10% or so. You can adjust the result by modifying the curve or the opacity.
    mcurley likes this.
  6. I see these types of questions, on forums, all the time.
    I wonder if a better question might be....... "Why aren't you asking your instructor for help with this".?
    mcurley likes this.
  7. This is a good question.

    Some questions, though, might be in addition to whatever people already learned.

    I sometimes read discussions related to programming, where if the question sounds like
    it is from a student, the person is expected to show what they have done so far.

    Personally, I was never very interested in dodging or burning in, never practiced much,
    so am probably not a good person to ask.

    But the OP could explain more what went wrong.

    There are a few things. One is that you need a long enough exposure
    to be able to do it before it ends. Second, be sure to keep moving, so that
    the edge is fuzzy, and not sharp. This is easier if you look at step one.
    mcurley likes this.
  8. Thank youfor the video suggestion, I'll definitely check it out!
  9. My professor did show me how to do it, I was just trying to see other possibilities to it. And this is for using an enlarger, which the advice you offered is very helpful. Thank you!
  10. I have tried the cardboard technique, guess I haven't perfected it yet, LOL. What you said about digital work is really interesting though! I need to keep that in mind when working with my digital photography. Thank you!
  11. Just looking for other options and different techniques or easier explanations. Makes sense though. Lol.
  12. Oh wow, I knew I had to keep it moving, but did not know it was to keep the edge fuzzy, as you said. Thank you!
  13. I use a variable transformer to dim my enlarger to where the exposures are about ten seconds minimum. You want a heat absorbing glass, lest the neg move during the exposure. Mostly I use my hands, but will sometimes put a hole in a piece of black construction paper. It's very hard to do a small print, so I'd only be doing it at 8x10 or larger.
  14. If an image has completely black or completely white (0 to 255 in 8-bit) areas, no amount of dodging or burning in will yield any results.

    However, I will say that slides I thought were way too underexposed for recovery, can often be partially recovered in post-processing.

    Blown highlights, however, are usually not recoverable in digital or slide film.

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