Photo Editing: Non Destructive Burning

In Photo editing, burning is a tool by which you can darken parts of your image, but the main drawback in this process is that you cannot undo what changes you have made as this editing process will permanently change the pixels in your image and is referred to as a destructive process. To remedy this drawback, Photoshop has a way of doing non destructive burning, so that it is possible to undo or edit further whatever you have darkened in your image without causing any alterations to the original pixels. Let us see how this is possible in Photoshop.

Step 1- Initialize Photoshop and Open the Image to Edit

Usually while shooting in natural lighting and not using a fill flash you will get parts of your image too bright which will need darkening. Go into Photoshop and open the digital photo you need to fix.

Step 2 - Go to New Layer Dialog Box

At the bottom of your screen is the layer's palette and the second icon from the right is the "New Layer" icon. Hold down the Alt key (in Mac hold down the Option key) and click on this icon which will open the dialog box.

Step 3 - Naming the Layer and Setting the Mode

In the New Layer Dialog Box you can optionally enter a name for the layer you are going to create as it might help in future to get to this layer if you want to. You can set the Mode by choosing Overlay in the box. This choice will help you to do the overall enhancement of contrast in a quicker way.

Step 4 - Fill New Layer with 50% Gray

Once you have chosen Overlay, an option will appear asking "Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% gray)." Click the checkbox to select it. When you do this Photoshop will fill your Layer palette with a shade that is in the middle of white and black. This gray shade will appear transparent on your photo and hence you will see your original photo as it was.

Step 5 - Set Foreground Color to Black

As you are going to darken portions of your image you will need to select black as the foreground color by pressing the "D" key.

Step 6 - Select Brush from Tool Palette and Adjust its Size

You will be darkening particular areas in your photo by painting over them with the brush tool. Select brush by clicking on its icon in the Tools Palette or alternatively press the B key. Depending on the area you want to cover with your strokes, you can adjust the size of your brush by pressing the "Left Square Bracket" key to make it smaller and the "Right Square Bracket" key to enlarge it.

Step 7 - Set Opacity of Brush and Paint over the Required Area

If you need to gradually build up on the darkening effect then set the opacity of your brush to 10%. You can do this by going to the Options Bar of Brush at the top of your screen and adjusting the percentage in Opacity box to 10%. This allows you to darken the area with increments of 10% with each stroke. Then start painting over the desired area by holding down the left key in the mouse.