Thursday, September 16, 2010

Photo Thursdays - Dodging is Not Like Dodgeball

Last week, we discussed a photo touch-up tool called burning, which adds some color and depth to an image. Today, we'll examine the exact opposite effect: dodging.

Yes, dodging sounds like an exciting game of dodge ball, but it's not nearly as entertaining or painful, though just as aggravating if you are prone to being the first person knocked out in the game. Dodging is simply a process of removing dark areas of an image by adding more light to them. Remember, this is an artificial process, so dodging can look very fake if done in large amounts or in the wrong locations.

Similar to burning, dodging is a fine art, one that takes considerable amounts of practice and a whole lot of patience.

Step 1: Open the photo you want to edit in Photoshop.

Step 2: Select the Dodge tool in the Tools Palette. The Dodge tool shares the same location with the Burn and Sponge tools, and all three are located just above the Text tool (which looks like a capital letter 'T').

Step 3: Adjust your brush size in the tool options palette at the top of the screen. It's better to choose a bit larger brush size than a smaller brush size to avoid splotchy effects. If done incorrectly, dodging can make Michael Jackson's unfortunate skin condition look good. Ah, I miss your good music, MJ.

Step 4: Just like with burning, you have the option of working with highlights, shadows or midtones. I would suggest starting with midtones. If that doesn't do enough work, try the shadows out. There are limited uses for the highlights. Also, make sure you select the airbrush setting (the pen with the squiggly line underneath) for a smoother application.

Step 5: Lightly click, drag and release your mouse over the dark image you want to lighten. You need to do this as quickly as possible. The longer you hold down the mouse, the more pressure will be applied and the stranger your picture will start to look. Remember, you can go over the same spot again, but you need to get a light first coat down. Continue to apply the effect until you achieve the desired result. A little goes a long way.

It may take multiple mistakes, but eventually you will get it down. It's not the world's greatest effect, and it doesn't always work quite the way you would hope, but it definitely has its place in the photographer's toolkit, especially when you find yourself in strange lighting situations.

Click on the image above to enlarge and see the effect more clearly.
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