The Power of Dodging and Burning in Landscape Photography

Dodging and burning, a technique widely used by portrait photographers, is also highly effective in landscape work. This technique, traditionally associated with Photoshop, can significantly alter the visual impact of an image. However, many photographers may not realize that this method can also be done in Lightroom, and this excellent video tutorial will show you how to do just that.

Coming to you from Christian Möhrle - The Phlog Photography, this helpful video tutorial will show you how to dodge and burn landscape images using Lightroom. First, Möhrle demonstrates how to alter the Adobe standard profile to control contrast, adjust exposure for detailing, and modify highlights, whites, shadows, and blacks to achieve a balanced base image. This initial step is crucial as it lays the foundation for more focused editing. The tutorial then proceeds to explain how to selectively enhance specific areas of an image, such as making the blue sky darker or brightening the highlights in the foreground. This targeted approach, using Lightroom's masking panel, allows for precise adjustments, ensuring that only the intended areas are affected. The use of range masks – color, luminance, and depth – is particularly emphasized, as these can be used to target specific tones or colors within a photograph.

This technique allows for a more nuanced and dynamic approach to editing, enabling photographers to draw attention to key elements of their images. After all, there's a reason dodging and burning is one of the oldest and most trusted techniques in the craft. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Möhrle.

And if you really want to dive into landscape photography, check out our latest tutorial, "Photographing the World: Japan With Elia Locardi!" 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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Great tutorial. Question though, why some times you use the intersection and other times you use the subtraction?

Subtract: you are removing a portion of the existing selection. Intersect: include only the parts that overlap between the two selections.

"This technique, traditionally associated with Photoshop..." Oh, please. The terms come from darkroom printing. Even the photoshop icons for burning and dodging are darkroom tools.

Most of these terms are getting redefined by the digital era. Still, I remember many hours in a darkroom using bits of cutout paper and various objects for the same effect under an enlarger. I loathe that companies like Adobe silently co-op these terms, I am sure they will eventually try to patent the term as theirs.

--- "Most of these terms are getting redefined by the digital era."

How is it being redefined when it still has the same meaning: lightening and darkening.

--- "I loathe that companies like Adobe silently co-op these terms"

I'm glad they kept the original terms instead of making up some cutesy-modern name for them. This way, the term is cross-compatible between film and digital.

You are reading into it too much:

1. "associated" is not the same as "originated". There was no intent in where the term came from.

2. If you've bothered reading and understanding the following sentence, "However, many photographers may not realize that this method can also be done in Lightroom", well, it's just that. It's pretty self explanatory.

It's not "associated" that is the issue, it's "traditionally".
That paragraph would have been more accurate if it said "frequently associated with Photoshop... Can also be done in Lightroom".

--- "It's not 'associated' that is the issue, it's 'traditionally'."

Similarly to what I mentioned earlier, "'traditionally" is not the same as "originally". Look, no one is trying to take away the origins of dodge and burn.

"frequently associated" is no more accurate than "traditionally associated". Unless you've been living under a rock, or just in denial, we are in digital world. The term "dodge and burn" is synonymous to Photoshop. Definitely, more so than Lightroom.

I did not try burning and dodging before as I use to photoshop alot of work and I did not it properly. Your explantion in lightroom actually more easier and direct to use. Thanks!