Photoshop Raw Smart Objects Primer for Dodge and Burn

When you are especially particular about your adjustments and want your dodging and burning to utilize the maximum amount of image data possible, nothing beats Raw Smart Objects for the task. This is also ideal when you're making significant changes to exposure, whether it's for dodging and burning or other adjustments. In the end, more data almost always amounts to smoother, better looking changes.

If you're a Lightroom guru, then you can apply this step to your workflow after preparing your image in Lightroom first, after you do whatever raw processing you normally do, then send the raw file to Photoshop for setting up the Raw Smart Objects. When you do this, Adobe Camera Raw will engage in Photoshop, complete with all your Lightroom adjustments still in place.

This is the tip of the iceberg in what Adobe Camera Raw can do, but for a lot of retouchers it's a good way to start getting used to Adobe Camera Raw in order to get the result you're after with dodge and burn. Keep in mind, it's hardly a cure-all for all your editing challenges, and in some cases can be considered overkill. That said, if you're the type who wants to preserve as much image data as possible while going about your workflow, Raw Smart Objects is the way to go.

I use this method maybe 2 percent of the time on my skin retouching. However, it can be used in your workflow as a permanent step towards what you wanna do, if you are so inclined. Check out the video tutorial above to see how to set it up.

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2 Comments

Samuel Flores Sanchez's picture

I usually export to photoshop the photo overexposed one step or till just before the highlights start blowing up. In Photoshop I bring down the over-exposition with curves and work with that.

Yann Langeard's picture

It seems to be a clever way to getting rid of dark bags under the eyes very quickly.