140. Lighten or Darken a Portion of an Image
Before You Begin
136 About an Images Histogram
137 Improve Brightness and Contrast
138 Improve a Dull, Flat Photo
141 Improve a Nighttime Photo
147 Adjust Saturation for a Specific Area
To make a photographic print, the classic development technique is to project an image of the negative onto sensitized printing paper. To lighten an area, the developer can dodge it by placing an object, usually a small paddle, in the projected light. To darken an area, he would burn it by forming a sort of donut hole with his hands and directing extra exposure light to the target area.
The Dodge and Burn tool icons in Photoshop Elements depict these traditional tools. Their jobs are, in essence, to lighten a spot and to blacken a spot, respectively. But they don't do this by painting white and black; you could do that with a Brush tool. Instead, the Burn tool darkens whatever it touches using the same formula used in the Burn blend modes. The Dodge tool lightens using the Dodge blend mode formula. Because you apply these tools to your image using an adjustable brush tip, you can pinpoint your changes to a few pixels or make changes to broader areas of the image. The effect much more closely resembles the old darkroom technique.
Both the Dodge and Burn tools have the side effect of desaturating what they touch. But they're not to be confused with another tool specifically designed for desaturation (or re-saturation): the Sponge tool. The Sponge could conceivably darken an area by compounding its native color. And when desaturating a spot, the Sponge doesn't lighten it; instead, it removes the colored hue, shifting it more toward grayscale. The Sponge tool is covered in 147 Adjust Saturation for a Specific Area.
Click Dodge or Burn Tool
Open the image you want to adjust in the Editor in Standard Edit mode and save it in Photoshop (*.psd) format. If there's more than one layer in the image, from the Layers palette, choose the layer containing the contents you want to compensate for. To protect any parts of the image you want to protect, select the region containing the spot you want to correct.
Select the Dodge or Burn tool on the Toolbox.
In the Toolbox, click the Dodge tool if you want to lighten an area; click the Burn tool if you want to darken an area.
Set Tool Options From the Range drop-down list, select whether to alter shadows, midrange tones, or highlights. This is an extremely important setting because it enables you to further protect those elements of your image that don't need correcting. For instance, you might not want to indiscriminately darken everything the Burn tool touches, so you might consider setting its Range to Midtones. Likewise, using the Dodge tool, you might not want to lighten the lightest tones, but only the Shadows. Choose the Range you want to change.
The Options bar offers several options that control the brush you'll use to apply the burn to the image. Open the brush presets drop-down list and select the type of brush you want to use. One with a feathered edge works best with these tools; hard-edged brushes can result in unnatural effects. In the Size text box, enter a brush size in pixels or select one using the slider. You can check the relative size by passing the tool over the picture without clicking; a circle shows the brush area that will be used.
The Exposure scale enables you to set the strength of the effect. In general, stick to the standard Exposure setting of 50% or less. That way, you can make multiple passes that change the picture in small increments.
Begin applying the tool by clicking and holding the mouse button where you want to start. For a pen tablet, position the pointer by hovering the pen, and then tap and hold the pen where you want the stroke to begin.
To draw a freehand stroke, continue holding the button down as you drag the mouse. The mark you draw will follow your pointer. As you continue applying the tool to an area, its effects are cumulativewhich means you can continue applying the Dodge tool to the same area within the same stroke, and it will continue to lighten the area. The tool's effect within the same stroke are limited, however, to the extent of the Exposure setting.
To draw a straight horizontal or vertical line, press Shift now and continue dragging the mouse. The Editor senses whether you intend for the line to move up, right, left, or down, by the general direction in which you're moving the mouseit doesn't have to be exact.
To draw a straight line between points, release the mouse button. For a pen tablet, lift the pen. Move the pointer to where you want the end of the line (or, to be geometrically accurate, the line segment) to appear. Press Shift and click this point. The line will be an application of the tool over the distance between the start and end points, relative to the tool's current Exposure setting. You can continue drawing from hereeither a freehand mark or another straight line segment.
To change brush tips for the Burn or Dodge tool at any time, right-click the image. The Brush Presets palette appears. Choose a new tip from the Brushes list, and then click the X button to dismiss the palette.
View the Result
When you're satisfied with the result, make any other changes you want and save the PSD file. Then resave the result in JPEG or TIFF format, leaving your PSD image with its layers intact so that you can return at a later time to make new adjustments.
This sample image is a natural candidate for dodging and burning. The spray at the bottom of the falls is overexposed; its details are washed out. The rocks just to the right of the spray are underexposed; detail there is obscured in shadow. The rest of the image, however, needs no serious correction. So, I used the Burn tool to correct the overexposure in the spray at the bottom of the falls; there's a bit more detail now than there was in the original image. I used the Dodge tool on the rocks just to the right of the spray to lighten up that area and reveal some additional detail.