Sometimes it is more intuitive to dodge and burn instead of using curves, here I dodged some detail into the smoke and burned the shadows a bit more for drama.
Did it ever bug you that dodging/burning in Photoshop is destructive and can not be changed after you used the tools? I have good news for you – with a little trick it is possible to do your dodging and burning in a separate layer.
First, create a new layer via Layers>New Layer. If you use the “New Layer” icon in the layers palette, press the alt or option key simultaneously.
Name the layer as you wish (I chose dodge/burn for the obvious reasons) and set the Blending Mode to Overlay, this will reveal another option at the bottom “Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% gray)”. Select that option.
Now you can dodge (lighten) and burn (darken) to your hearts content. You’ll find adjustments for brush size, range (highlights/midtones/shadows) and Exposure right under your menu bar.
Here’s the best part – you won’t need to worry anymore if you screw up, simply go into the dodge/burn layer and paint in your mistakes with the 50% gray color (use the eyedropper to pick it up from an untouched area)
this is how the dodge/burn layer looks by itself. Instead of using the dodge/burn tools, you could paint white or black with different opacities in the d/b layer.
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