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Chapter 6. Fixing and Retouching Photos > Using the Tonal Adjustment Tools

Using the Tonal Adjustment Tools

In traditional photography, technicians can control darkness and lightness values on specific parts of an image by masking off one area of film while exposing another. In the process, selected areas are either burned in (darkened) or dodged (lightened). Photoshop Element’s Burn and Dodge tools replicate this effect without the bother of creating masks. Instead, you simply drag an adjustable tool’s brush pointer through the area you want to affect, leaving the rest of the image unchanged. If one portion of an image is dramatically overexposed or washed out, while another portion is underexposed, the Dodge and Burn tools can be used to target and correct just those specific problem areas. The Sponge tool, which works in much the same way as the Dodge and Burn tools, increases or decreases the intensity of the color, rather than the lightness and darkness values. You can use the Sponge tool to bring colors back to life in badly faded, older photographs, or work in the opposite direction, pulling the color out of a newer photo and creating an antique, faded, or color-tinted effect.

To lighten a portion of an image with the Dodge tool:

Select the Dodge tool from the toolbox (O) (Figure 6.46).

Figure 6.46. The Dodge tool.

On the options bar, select a brush size using the Brush Size slider (Figure 6.47).

Figure 6.47. Choose a brush size from the Options bar.

Pick a brush size appropriate to your image. For most images, a brush size betwen 20-40 pixels is a good place to start.

You can also select a specific tonal range to lighten (shadows, midtones, or highlights) and control the amount of lightness applied, with the Exposure setting (Figure 6.48).

Figure 6.48. Select the part of the tonal range you most want to affect with Photoshop Element’s tonal adjustment tools. With both the Dodge and Burn tools, you can choose to limit your changes to just the shadow, midtone, or highlight areas.

Move the brush pointer to the area of your image that you want to lighten; then hold down the mouse button and drag through the area (Figure 6.49).

Figure 6.49. Drag the Dodge or Burn brush through any area to lighten or darken the pixels while preserving image detail. Here, we’ve used the Dodge tool to lighten the radio in the original picture (left), making it much easier to see (right).



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