Five ways to bump local exposure without dodging
Dodging is a good way to draw attention to the subject in your image. However, it comes with certain drawbacks, and sometimes alternative methods are a better solution. In this video, Jonathan Lee Martin gives you five alternatives to dodging that will make your subject pop without harming your image.
When you dodge specific areas of your image, you can make it look unrealistic if you overdo it just a tad. If you only bump the exposure, it crushes down the dynamic range in the regions of interest. It also makes the colors look desaturated and can even make the photo look unrealistic, especially when viewed as a thumbnail. To avoid all these drawbacks of dodging, here are the five alternatives Jonathan suggests.
1. White balance
Adjusting the white balance in the regions of interest can make this region stand out more. But it’s not just what you bring up – it’s also what you downplay. So, you can warm up the region of interest a bit, but at the same time cool down the rest of the image. This will bring more attention to the specific area of the photo without harming the saturation or the dynamic range.
2. Increase saturation
Increasing the saturation also makes the specific areas of the photo more prominent. So, use a local adjustment brush or a radial brush to bump up the saturation in the selected area of the image. Similarly, you can slightly decrease the saturation in the areas that steal attention from the main subject. Be careful not to overdo it though, because it can make the colors look clipped.
3. Bring up the shadows
This is especially effective in the areas where you have a lot of highlight detail and some dark shadow detail that’s a little overdone. In this case, bring up the shadows just a bit. This will bring up some color in the shadows, and also could create a subtle halo effect that still won’t look fake, especially in the thumbnail.
4. Bring up the contrast
Jonathan suggests that you almost always use the contrast adjustments in conjunction with exposure adjustments. Adjusting contrast will make the colors more saturated, and bumping up the exposure will create the balance that will help your photo stay realistic.
5. Bump up the whites
Finally, this is Jonathan’s favorite method – bumping up the whites. This adds brilliance to the photo without affecting highlights, shadows and blacks. You can combine it with the step one and adjust the white balance to make your subject pop even more.
Jonathan adds that he rarely uses clarity and blacks adjustments. Clarity tends to increase micro-contrast and desaturate colors. As for blacks, bumping them down can make the areas look completely black, which rarely looks natural, so it’s better to avoid it when making local adjustments.
Do you use these methods when making local adjustments to your images? Or you rather stick to just dodging?
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.