Dodging & Burning In

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by cliveh, Jan 8, 2012.

  1. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Dodging & Burning In – I know this is sometimes necessary when producing a print. However, if you photograph something with the correct lighting ratio for the film you are using and get the exposure and development right, this is often not necessary. I also think that some of the maps shown by printers who do extensive dodging and burning are really trying to show they have some special skill which should be emulated by others. Almost comparable with Photoshop manipulation and devoid of original integrity related to original capture.
     
  2. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I have never made a print in my entire career that was not dodged or burned , it is a necessity IMO.
     
  3. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I rarely dodge and burn, and try to avoid it. As Per showed me, you can warm a print with your fingers and locally accelerate development while it is developing, and you can also bleach very selectively down to the last fiber of the paper. If I do need to d&b, it's done with shadows of fingers and pencils and such under the enlarger, and the aim is to keep it very subtle. If it's not subtle then you can get that HDR halo effect.

    Properly done, d&b can be a very effective tool, of course. And there are masters of the technique. But I think one has to try to do everything possible to get what you want "in camera" ...and go from there. What I do not care for is d&b overused to manufacture drama where it wasn't. E.g. crazy clouds and glowing faces in shadows. I try to respect the light that was there and simply don't take a shot if the light isn't close to right.
     
  4. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    I don't think I've ever made a print that I thought worthy of framing that doesn't need at least a bit of simple dodging and burning. I'm not familiar with Per's technique of selective warming though. Of course it's really nice to start with a negative that doesn't need much, but on my negatives there's always something that needs lightening or darkening. I'm not good enough at it to do the complicated stuff I've seen "mapped" in books etc.
     
  5. Hexavalent

    Hexavalent Subscriber

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    True enough.

    There are also many occasions when dodging/burning are required to produce a print that conveys a range/ratio of tones.
    Imogen Cunningham apparently kept 'maps' of her very involved burns/dodges. Something tells me that she wasn't compensating for bad lighting/processing.
     
  6. Hexavalent

    Hexavalent Subscriber

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    Conversely, an ice-cube in a plastic bag can be used to control run-away shadows.
     
  7. Brook Hill

    Brook Hill Subscriber

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    As I understand it film can record ten stops of brightness range whilst paper can only record about five so unless your subject is very low in contrast dodging and burning is essential if you want to print all the tones. A print with no dodging and burning tends to be flat with low contrast, it all depends on what you want. I am sure more technical experts on the forum can put it better than this.

    Tony
     
  8. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    You can match your film to whatever range you desire (Zone System, Beyond the Zone System), and the use of multigrade paper and contrast filters can usually ensure good white and black points and contrast if normal graded paper isn't matched to the neg.
     
  9. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Hexavalent, I do understand what you mean. However, it seems to me strange that someone would want to do this, perhaps analogous to someone taking an image off the internet and then manipulating it into something different, rather like music sampling and mixing. I guess it has its place, but a complete anathema to me.
     
  10. Hexavalent

    Hexavalent Subscriber

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    Perhaps an analogy: The spoken word carries meaning, but 'inflection' can greatly influence its interpretation. We use bold and italics (and now emoticons) in the written word to 'nuance' intent/meaning. I see the use of (limited) burn/dodge in much the same way.

    Grabbing somebody else's image and contorting it, particularly without permission and full disclosure is theft.
     
  11. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    This is a very problematic thought. Although photography is capable of representing reality in some sense, that isn't necessarily a rule.

    A few simple examples.

    Black and White photography, the world is colorful what's up with that? Really, is that anywhere near the normal view most of us see?

    Cropping, when we take a photo we pick a composition, we crop it right out of the whole. For any given photo most of the context that our composition resides in is left out. Without the context how are we supposed to judge the integrity of a subjects tears? The scene can be real and misrepresented at the same time.

    Color, we choose the films we put in our cameras. Velvia is a favorite of many, I've seen many gorgeous photos done on Velvia, what I can't say about most of those photos is that the colors represented in those tranny's ever really existed in the scene.

    Studio portraiture, is normally fully and absolutely artificial, but it does exist in the real tangible world. From makeup through lighting and set building to posing it is completely contrived. It is Photoshop before the fact.

    Studio portraiture's little brother is flash photography.

    Colored lens filters manipulate how the film sees/how it renders colors.

    Soft-focus lenses change the texture of a subjects skin. Vaseline on the lens can also be used.

    Short depth of field controls context, blurring away things that aren't wanted.

    Okay I'll quit, even though I could go on.
     
  12. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    I'll throw this in:

    So why is image manipulation using different exposure and development tecnhiques and variations without criticism? I'm arguing it's the same thing, more or less, as print manipulation.
     
  13. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    Respectfully disagree.

    You do qualify your original statements with the words I've highlighted, but the overall tenor of the post seems to make me think that you disapprove of dodging and burning, or somehow consider it cheating. Please don't take this personally, (we don't know each other), but this is your opinion and mine is that dodging and burning is a perfectly legitimate and useful tool. and is often necessary to convey the original vision of the photographer.

    How is it different, with respect to integrity, than adjusting development times, or the exposure index of the film to suit personal preferences? Or any of the other things we all do to "get the exposure and development right"? How is it different from the selection of printing paper and its development?

    Granted, if I am doing studio work, or have the advantage of controlling the lighting, I can "often" make negatives that require little, if any, manipulation in printing. However, if I'm "in the field" and have to deal with whatever lighting is there, dodging and burning to bring the image in line with what I saw when I made the image is not a breach of integrity.

    This seems to me to be along the same lines of puritan reasoning as those who believe that cropping is wrong. The comparison to Photoshop is a straw man ...

    EDIT: I see others are saying much the same things. It took me a while to write this.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 8, 2012
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  15. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I basically agree. A print is, after all, a re-photograph of the photograph. Many of the games you can play in the capture phase can also be played in the darkroom. After all, there are GNDs and such.

    I am not one to assert purity of technique nor insist that we must all adopt the ethics of photojournalism; I think one has to do whatever is necessary to make the desired statement.

    But... my points are that (1) if you can do most of your work "in camera" then your darkroom work will be much less laborious, so looking for the light you need is essential; and (2) poorly executed, d&b leads to some unnatural effects, so again, having a sense of how to wait for and use the available light is very helpful.

    D&b can produce some really terrible things, I know because I've made a few myself. An example is a bank of perfectly gentle clouds that have been artificially made to look ominous, and so forth. That's one d&b cliche that I cannot take! Expert printers like Mr. Carnie don't commit such offenses, of course :wink:
     
  16. CPorter

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    If you could offer up some example of what you mean..........but so far, I completely disagree with your assessment.

    So, if I have a well executed negative (meaning, that I have gotten the "exposure and development right" for the lighting, according to you), I should only print it to satisfy some literal rendering of the subject tones as they are captured? A well executed negative, IMO, is one that offers up a siginificant amount of freedom to take your visualization of the final print to its completion. Good photographic craft prior to print making should not tie your hands in the printing process, IMHO.........on the contrary, it should free them. Sounds to me, if I understand your point, you are suggesting that dodging and burning are tools that should mostly be used to make up for some mistake made in exposure and development of the negative----I couldn't disagree more.
     
  17. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    +1, although I might not use "it is a necessity" but rather, "they are marvellous tools".
     
  18. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I'm not saying that dodging and burning are wrong, but often unnecessary and done because some printers are saying that this is what a photographer should do to produce a good print. I would say the same about cropping, not wrong, but if you have considered original composure, why crop? Does a painter go out and make a painting and then when he/she returns to their studio, take a pair of scissors and cut a bit off one edge?
     
  19. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    As a example of why dodging and burning is needed, I have a series of photographs that I took in Yosemite which have a subject brightness range of twelve f/stops. To print full range of the negatives took dodging and burning even with multigrade paper and contrast filters. I used them when I took a class with Per Volquartz and he showed me how to get the full range of the negative printed on paper. Without dodging a burning, the highlights would be burned out and much of the shadow details lost.

    Do I dodge and burn every print? No, it is not necessary.

    Steve
     
  20. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    I feel there are to types of dodging and burning, the first being remedial, which means there's a problem with the way the image looks, perhaps a shadow area prints down too far at the base exposure and it looks better dodged out a bit. Or the sun is striking one small area and needs to be brought down to show texture.. The other type of dodging and burning is editorial, where one is looking to change the feeling or emphasis in a print. I think of Ben Fernandez's pictures of Dr. Martin Luther King, marching in huge crowds. Somehow Fernandez managed to dodge King just a bit lighter than the rest of the picture so the eye found him easily at first glance. It was very subtle and perfect, IMO. I also occasionally burn all four edges, something I tried for the first as kid after reading that Ansel did it frequently. I have certainly enlarged negatives straight without D&B. And of course all of my Pt/Pd and gum printing is without D&B.
     
  21. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    So how is cropping a shot out of reality any different ethically than cropping what's in the negative?

    For all we know that was the plan when the shot was taken because they didn't have the perfect lens.

    Maybe the photographer shoots a bit loose just to leave some options open. That is also the reason many people overexpose a bit, they want more info on the negative so they have more options when they print.

    Yes in essence, not with scissors but by painting over what they already did many painters will recompose a scene.

    Don't get me wrong here I'm ll for good camera work, it makes the darkroom work much easier.

    Uelsmann does very different work than most of us. I'd hazard a guess that some burn and dodge is involved. I'd also hazard a guess that his work would be impossible with out those concepts.

    We all develop procedures and practices that suit our needs. In another recent discussion here the point was made that the development of a neg may be made purposefully not to match the entire SBR to the paper, instead made to get a specific micro contrast with the full intention of burning and dodging to get the rest of the scene onto the paper.
     
  22. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    For one, if I only photographed a scene where the range of lighting fits neatly in 10 zones maximum, I'd be avoiding awful a lot of excellent opportunities. Wait... make that 8 because most paper can't even show all 10 zones. More like 7 to 8.

    For two, I first see the scene by my eyes. I scan the field. My brain automatically adjust my iris (in my eyes), compensate for excessive and lack of lighting and construct the scene in my mind. Camera, on the other hand, has a fixed exposure for a given shutter release. It applies to the entire frame of the film. (unless one uses grad filter, etc). Dodging and burning are often necessary to print the scene as my my eyes saw it and my mind reconstructed.

    Plus.... the photograph need not be an accurate depiction of the actual scene. It is not always a documentary rendition. It can be an interpretation of the scene. In other words, that's what I want the viewer to see - through my lens and my mind.

    Photography to me, is an artistic expression - not a forensic evidence.
     
  23. ROL

    ROL Member

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    Unless you are spoiling for an argument (an even then), I think these are very immature and ignorant statements. I might agree with the relative lengths I've seen some go to, which involve split second timing, but that is their process, not mine to judge. In the thousands of prints I've made, I've only encountered one case where the straight print was good enough to be considered a finished fine print, and that was only with one size. Other sizes from the same negative required small adjustments to match the the straight one.

    With natural light one doesn't get to fine tune lighting conditions, that is why one needs to adjust developing of the negative. There is no way a monochrome negative can normally translate the emotion of any color scene to monochrome substrates without intervention – the visualization of the photographic artist.

    Showing off "some special skill", as you say, is ludicrous. I have never seen a case where fine art prints are accompanied by "maps", unless the creator of the work desired to convey classical methods clearly to others. This act of internet altruism I have done myself (Making a Fine Art Print –> Print Record), without apology to you, and no financial gain to myself, simply for the benefit of others.

    You are a very silly person.
     
  24. mdarnton

    mdarnton Member

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    So, Clive, I guess this is one of your photos:
    http://www.make-a-print.com/photo_4458973.html#photos_id=7989106
    I suppose it was your intent for my eyes to be drawn to the bright foreground, and stay there, looking at nothing else in the photo? Because that's what's happening.

    Burning and dodging don't exist to cure errors in exposure--they're there to shape the viewer's interaction with the photograph, stressing what is important, subduing what isn't. Nature doesn't always cooperate with what we were seeing, and how we want other people to see that.
     
  25. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    the way i see it is no matter what is done with a camera, it is manipulating whatever scene is in front of it.
    slow exposures manipulate time just like instant exposures of a millisecond do the same. ( i won't even go into filters .. )
    developing the film and converting it into a negative manipulates the scene even more, soft invisible grain, hard grain reticulation
    ( i won't go into intensification or negative retouching either )
    then printing it ... chemistry paper, hands on the print, ice in the bath, hair dryer, water bath, burning, dodging, wide open lens, stopped down, obstructions,
    graphite dust on the print, abrading it with a knife ... inks, oils bleaches paints ...
    there really is no such thing as an unmanipulated straight print ...
     
  26. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    [snip snip snip]

    I would try to take the middle road in this discussion. Again, there is such a thing as special/good light, or "found" light if you want to call it that. And knowing how to use it is a very useful skill. That said, there's nothing wrong with whatever tools and techniques someone may use to achieve their artistic vision. We have to be tolerant of each other's workflows and appreciate the diversity of approach...
     
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