Over the next few exercises, we will be digging a little deeper into intervention, looking more specifically at interpretation, and how we as photographers would interpret certain scenarios within our images.

Ordinarily, and if necessary, one of the first functions we would perform in our post-processing software is a global adjustment of exposure, making sure that our image looks correct and that we can see all of the detail we were trying to capture within the frame.  I usually start doing this in Photoshop’s Camera-RAW plugin by recovering both the highlights and shadows, and if necessary, I tweak the brightness and contrast here too.

As global adjustment is a generic adjustment, applied to an image as a whole, here we will be concentrating more on local adjustments, pinpointing specific areas and detail within an image, especially those contained within the highlights and shadows.  In the days of the wet darkroom, a common technique for applying local adjustments to a negative was known as dodging and burning.  There is a function similar to this available in Photoshop:

Dodging was performed in a wet darkroom by holding back the exposure from the enlarger lamp, normally using a small, shaped piece of black card or metal … by moving the card constantly during exposure, the edges of the area were held back and softened.  Burning, by its name, was the opposite, adding extra time to selected areas after the initial overall exposure.

Freeman (2008:564)

Although the same principal applies, in the digital darkroom, the same dodging and burning function in Photoshop alters the brightness of an image over its actual exposure, and is best used as a final touch-up technique on smaller areas; larger areas are better left to the shadow/highlight tool.

The shadow/highlight tool redistributes tone in a realistic way, and designed to deal with issues surrounding backlighting and contrast, hence its use on larger areas of our images (Freeman 2008:560).



Freeman, M,  (2008) Mastering Digital Photography.  East Sussex: The Ilex Press Limited.


Freeman, M,  (2008) Mastering Digital Photography.  East Sussex: The Ilex Press Limited.

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