Craft and Vision is stepping things up. They just released a brand new eBook called Dodge and Burn: Leading The Eye With Lightroom and Photoshop. Written by Piet van Den Eynde, this is a comprehensive manual on how to refine the tonal relationships in your digital imagery by using Lightroom and/or Photoshop.
Although we don’t often refer to it as such these days, especially if we didn’t start out in the days of film and enlargers, dodging and burning is a craft that has as much relevance today as it ever did. In fact, Ansel Adams is quoted as saying “Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.”
Lighting conditions, contrast and the limitations of digital sensors rarely produce a perfect image when we snap the shutter. However, by processing our images with modern digital imaging software, we can soften highlights, bring out shadows and accentuate color and contrast in order to effectively communicate the message of our subject matter in the optimum way that we intended during initial capture.
Post processing can be daunting and sometimes overwhelming task. Even with the simplicity of virtual sliders that give immediate results, the craft of effectively dodging and burning requires that we have full understanding of how we intend to refine our image, but also why.
The why is what matters, because in photography, it’s not the technique that carries the image, it’s the message. Photography is all about communicating your own interpretation about the subject, and through careful tonal management, you can help lead your viewer’s eye through your image. Human vision responds differently to light and dark, areas of relative brightness and to differing levels of sharpness, contrast and color. Solid post processing skills allow you to take control of your photographs. In today’s world, you need to take control of your imagery in order for it to stand out.
The how involves establishing a smooth and efficient workflow, and then choosing the right technique that best lends itself to the task and to your particular image. Even with Lightroom and Photoshop, there are a number of options that allow you to manipulate your image: the sliders in Adobe Camera RAW, adjustment brushes, gradient filters, levels, curves, etc. Some people use third party plug-ins, which offer even more options.
In this book, Piet walks you through an entire workflow from the ground up and shows you how to be efficient and effective with the tools mentioned in the previous paragraph. He offers specific case studies where he explores each tool and technique in depth with thorough and straightforward approach.
He starts with Lightroom, and then moves on to Photoshop and a couple of plug-ins by Nik Software, Viveza and Silver Efex Pro. Nik offers 15 day trial version of their software for free, and if you buy this ebook, you actually get a 15% discount code that’s good for any of their plug-ins.
What I really like about Dodge and Burn is that Piet walks you through each example and each area of the practice images with such detail. He might pinpoint seven or eight areas of a photo that need some specific adjustment on a particular photo, and then he’ll show you exactly how to make the adjustments that really bring your image alive.
In order to make the most use of this book and use the exercises, you’ll need either Lighroom 4 or Photoshop CS5/CS6. However, if you don’t have either of those programs, you’ll still benefit greatly from his explanations and techniques, which you should then be able to apply to your own software. Remember, ultimately it’s about the why. The how is just the tools you use to get you to the why.
Dodge and Burn: Leading The Eye With Lightroom and Photoshop is an truly excellent eBook, one of the best that I’ve seen. It’s without a doubt, the most ambitions project that Craft and Vision has released to date, and I’ve read nearly all of their titles. Piet is not only a master of his craft, he’s an excellent teacher and he lays out the information with clarity and technical authority. (Piet is also the author of the C&V Making Light off camera flash eBook series.)
Dodge and Burn is also an unbelievable value. It’s actually not just an eBook, it’s actually a complete package. For only $10, you get a 91 page double spread eBook that’s filled with information. You also get Piet’s Easy Dodge Panel, a custom Photoshop panel and matching action set (normally a $10 value), as well as 10 exercise files that let you follow along in the book and practice the techniques on your own.
Or, you can also get the Dodge & Burn “Lite” version for only $5, which has the Easy Dodge Lite Panel, but doesn’t have the 10 exercise image files.
If you want to increase your technical mastery and learn how to actively create photographs instead of just getting passive digital captures, then I would highly recommend this book, even if it were to cost twice as much.