Saturday, 15 September 2012

Tutorial: How to make Dodgers & Burners

Ever used dodging and burning tools in Photoshop to digitally enhance photographs and wondered how to create the same effect in the darkroom? Well, this tutorial is going to show you exactly how to create different exposures to different areas of a photographic print. The best bit - your students can even make their own dodger and burner tools!
1. Cut a rectangular hole out of the middle of a piece of black card. Ideally make the rectangle hole about 10x7cm.

2. Using a piece of smaller black paper, cut the required shape out using a craft knife. This paper is then attached using blue-tak or sellotape over the rectangular card hole.

3. Hold the large piece of card with the first cut out above the area which you want to burn in. Keep the card moving constantly during the exposure to prevent any sudden changes between the different exposed areas.

The burner is held over the photographic paper so that the light passes through the cut out and onto the area which requires additional exposure (to make it darker in the final print).

TIP: If students find it easier they could just use a piece of black card and move it over the area that needs to be made darker. For smaller areas or parts of the print that need editing near the edge the burner tool is best as it will make the effect more accurate.
Dodgers are used to reduce the exposure time in a particular area of a photographic print. For this technique you will need some thin aluminium wire (a coat hanger will do), blue-tak or sellotape, thin black card, acrylic black paint, scissors and some wire cutters.

1. Cut a 25cm length of thin aluminium wire and bend one end of the wire to form a small loop shape about 1cm across.
2. Paint the wire black with acrylic paint and leave to dry. Whilst the paint is drying get your students to cut different shaped dodgers out of black card.
3. Once dry, attach to the loop of wire using blue-tak or sticky tape. You can re-use your wire loop for any dodger shape that you create!

TIP: When burning in or dodging an area of a photographic print it is important to keep the tool moving gently at all times. This will help prevent any harsh edges or lines being formed in the final print. 

We will be creating our own dodger and burner tools in the next few weeks with our A2 Photo classes. Keep checking back to see our photos and some clearer visual instructions. In the meantime... if you still haven't tried the technique digitally then this video is a great step by step guide for your students to use.

- Kirsty 

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