Soft Light Dodging and Burning is for the Birds!

Over the years, I have taught you many different techniques for Dodging and Burning.  I have shown Curves Layers, 50% Gray Fill, even automated methods for Dodging and Burning.  All the while, I had taught you these techniques while sticking to the Blend Mode that I knew when I learned them, Soft Light.  However, I recently took a good hard look at WHY I was using Soft Light and began to pursue the idea that there could be something better out there.

My old Parachute Rigger Supervisor and Mentor used to say this regularly, and I mean almost every day, “I don’t do things just to do things. I do them for a reason.”  For some reason, that always stuck in my head when I found myself doing tasks that I did for the sake of doing them without questioning why.

Recently as I was dodging and burning using soft light as my blend mode, I noticed a color shift in the photo I was editing. It really looked like I was baking those colors, baking them so much they were burnt (pun intended).  I had also received emails from people asking me why the soft light or overlay blend mode Dodge and Burn Techniques created a color shift.  I usually responded with, “that’s just the downside of dodging and burning.”

That simply is not true.

That is the downfall of using the soft light blend mode for dodging and burning.  Soft Light, by its nature, is a great blend mode.  But it is also the only blend mode in the whole stack that doesn’t make much sense.  Even when you read Adobe’s forum on the blend mode, it basically says it mimics a diffused light effect.  Not very helpful.

There is one Blend Mode in the contrast blend mode section that was meant for Dodging and Burning.  That is the Linear Light Blend Mode.  It actually takes its power from the Linear Dodge and Linear Burn  Blend modes.  It’s basically like taking both of those blend modes and slamming them together into one awesome blend mode that was made for dodging and burning.

I will show you exactly why I feel the Linear Light Blend Mode is better in today’s video.  I will also demo it on a few images and leave you with these actions to try independently.  Enjoy!

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Blake Rudis
f.64 Academy and f.64 Elite are the brainchildren of Blake Rudis. While he is a landscape photographer he is most passionate about post-processing images in Photoshop and mentoring others.

For Blake, it is less about the art and more about the process. He dives deep into difficult topics and makes them easy to understand through his outside the box thinking.
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