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There are so many different reasons why you might want to burn or dodge one of your photographs. A lot of times it might be that you're trying to add a little bit of drama or focus; other times perhaps you want to diminish a shadow or a highlight. Well, here I want to take a look at how we can continue to burn and dodge with this photograph here, and this is a picture that I captured yesterday. What I want to do is I want to brighten up a little bit of these shadows that I'm seeing on the photograph. So in order to do this, let's create a new layer, change the Blending mode, and then I also want to talk about some advanced techniques when using this technique of burning and dodging.
So let's click on the New layer Icon and then go ahead and name this layer burn and dodge. The next thing that I want to do is go ahead and take this Blending mode to Soft Light. Well, now that we have a Soft Light Blending mode, I want to show you something which is going to be a bit of an exaggeration but can help illustrate a point. We've seen before that what we can do is if we paint something; in this case, like white or if we paint black, we can either brighten or darken. Now the disadvantage of using black or white is that eventually the pixels underneath it, they become white or black.
Well, we can change this and let me show you how. If you click on your Color Picker, rather than just using black and if you turn off Only Web Colors, you can sample, say, a skin tone. Here you can see that skin tone here. Then I could darken that up a little bit and then click OK. So now if I paint with this, rather than having it go black, it's going to go towards a certain hue. You can see the difference between these values and also how this one has a little bit of color in it.
The reason why I illustrate this is that in order to do this right, what you really want to do isn't so much to burn or dodge the black or white, but to a color which will work best for your photograph. Well, let me delete all that I've done there just as demo and let's work on this image. So here I'll click on my Color Picker Icon and then I'm going to sample a nice bright skin tone. In this case, this color that I'm seeing right around here on the face, I'll click around a little bit until I get a nice tone that I think will work. Next, click OK. Well, now that we have that, I'll go ahead and diminish my Opacity because typically we want a relatively low opacity.
And on this layer which is on a Blending mode of Soft Light, I'll bring my brush over the image. Now here I want to change my Brush Size and I want to do this in context. To do that, you can right-click or Ctrl+Click. Here we can see I can decrease my Brush Size and also remove any Hardness. Another way to do that would be of course just to use your shortcuts. The Left Bracket key is a really handy one. Next, I'm going to start to paint over this area of the photograph and I'm just going to start to paint this little adjustment in on these shadows.
I'll make my brush smaller in order to paint in the smaller areas. And then I realize that this isn't quite bright enough, so I'll go back to my Color Picker, I'm going to brighten that up even more, and then click OK. Once again, I'll continue to paint over this area just trying to take out these shadows. A lot of times when you do this work, as I say in other places, you shouldn't really notice anything super-dramatic here. Rather, you should feel like you're subtly improving the image. And basically what I'm doing is I'm just painting over a few little shadow areas where I want to diminish the shadows, where I want to kind of take those back or take those down a little bit.
And as I make these brushstrokes, I'm changing my brush size and I'm painting over different areas of the photograph just to change the overall look in this picture. Well, when we then turn off the visibility of this layer, you can see the before and now the after. We were able to paint in light into those areas, yet my brushstrokes as we've discussed before, they're too harsh. So we need to diminish those. To do that, we can go to our Filter pulldown menu and then choose Blur and Gaussian Blur. By adding just a little bit of Gaussian Blur, this can just soften those edges of our brushstrokes.
Here we can click OK and then look at our results. This is before and now here's after. If ever we want to paint more intensely, we can just go back to our Eyedropper tool, brighten this up even more here, click OK, and then also increase our Opacity. Next, we can go ahead and reposition the cursor over the area that we want to work on, say this shadow here. I just want to take that out even a little bit more and I'm just painting back and forth over that shadow. I also want to hit a couple other shadows that I'm noticing as well.
And then next after we've done that, again, we'll want to look at our before and then after. Now that I've added these new brushstrokes, I want to blur this one more time. Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. As I add this blur, I need to be aware that I'm really stacking the blur up on top of itself, so you want to be careful. Another thing that you can do is if you have a brushstroke which isn't good, you can grab your Eraser tool. With the Eraser tool, you can use a nice soft-edge eraser and then you can go ahead and lower the opacity and then just slowly kind of erase some of the edges, some of areas that don't look very good.
So while this is pretty technical what we've done here, it's also incredibly powerful and I'm showing you how to do this on a portrait. Yet you can use this burn and dodge technique in so many different situations with all of your photographs regardless of the subject matter. I just think it illustrates a good point when working with a portrait because by looking at the before and after, all of a sudden we see that image differently, we're drawn into different elements. And ideally with this picture we're more drawn into the face and into the eyes rather than into those shadows.
So by creating this new layer and by painting with a certain hue, whether that's a dark or bright hue, we can really brighten or darken our image in some specific and incredibly helpful ways.
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