This is the opposite of dodging. It involves adding light beyond the basic exposure to chosen areas of a photograph. Frequently, for example, a bright sky may be burned in to bring out cloud detail. Burning-in is always additional exposure through the negative unlike "flashing," which we will cover shortly.
Burning-in is usually done using a sheet of cardboard with a hole in the middle, or using the photographer's hands.
As with dodging, the hands or the cardboard should be kept moving and should be far enough above the paper not to register as sharp-edged areas.
Unlike dodging, which is done during the basic exposure, burning-in is done before or after the basic exposure. Usually, you make your basic exposure, then position your hands or the cardboard, and expose again for the additional burning-in time needed. As with dodging, this time can be established by making test strips that determine the exposure time for the basic print and the total exposure time for the burned-in areas.
How to Burn-in.
Position your hands or a cardboard with a hole in it so that light hits only the areas to be burned in, and nowhere else. Cut openings in the cardboard to fit the burned-in area. Keep the tool in motion to prevent obvious lines of demarcation.
Note: If the burning-in of a particular area requires a very long time, you can speed up the process by opening up the lens during burning-in. If 60 seconds burning-in is required at your printing aperture, you can open the lens one stop and burn-in for 30 seconds, or open two stops and burn in for 15 seconds. Don't forget to stop down again before you expose the next print of this picture. When burning-in using a hole in a cardboard, watch the edges of the card as well as the hole. If unwanted light spills onto an edge of the picture, it will be too dark.
Hole in cardboard. (Top, left.) Good for specific small areas in the print. The hole can be cut to shape.
Bare hands. (Top, right.) An alternative to hole-in-cardboard, but be sure unwanted light doesn't leak between your fingers.
Test Print. We again show the original print. On it you see the indications for cropping and for dodging. Looking at this print you decide that the highlights seen through the window are too bright. In fact, they're so overexposed that they don't show all the detail that you can see in the negative. You want to darken this area and bring out the detail by burning it in. To indicate this, you put the X-marks, shown here, on the print. They're shown in black in this picture, but they can be in any color — usually the same color as your other markings.
An alternative symbol for burning in is to use diagonal slash marks. These are generally for burning in large areas.
Cropped, dodged, and burned-in print. Here is the finished burned-in print. Note how detail in the highlights has been brought out without losing detail in the shadow. This print is complete — it has been cropped, dodged, and burned-in. It's ready for mounting.
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