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Using Dodge & Burn in Luminar Neo on landscapes

Luminar Neo has added Dodge & Burn tools to their editing tools with one of their recent releases, which is perfect for both portraits and landscapes!

First, if you need a refresher on what Dodge & Burn tools do: Dodging and burning allow for control over lightening or darkening areas of an image. Dodging refers to darkening areas of an image. This can be done to a varying degree depending on what you want to achieve. Burning is just the opposite. By burning areas of the image, you are lightening them up.

Here is a quick how-to for using Dodge and Burn when post-processing landscapes.

Landscape example

First, because I use Lightroom Classic as my library/database, I straightened the image and removed dust spots. Then I clicked on Photo > Edit In > Luminar Neo

edit in Lumina Neo screen shot dodge and burn

Once the image opened up in Luminar Neo, I opened up the EnhanceAI panel and moved the slider to 51. I also pushed the Sky Enhancer slider to 13.

Luminar Neo EnhanceAI dodge and burn

Next up is the Dodge & Burn panel. You’ll find it at the bottom of the list of edit tools under the Professional category.

Luminar Neo dodge and burn panel

In order to show the effects, I’ve exaggerated the effect by applying the Burn tool to the mountains at a strength of 100. Then I dialed it down to where I wanted it.

dodge and burn example
The slider at 99 shows where I lightened the mountains just so you can see it. And yes, I overshot the edges of the mountains and lightened into the sky on purpose for example only.

Next, I used the Dodge tool to darken the snowy mountains in the background a bit. 

dodge and burn mountains

Finally, I used the Burn tool again to lighten up that iceberg in the foreground and added an overall exposure adjustment to the final image.

Step-by-step instructions in Luminar Neo

  1. To Dodge and Burn, open the Dodge & Burn tool in the Professional tools section of the Edit panel.
  2. Choose either the Lighten or Darken tool in the top toolbar to select the desired brush.
  3. Use the Brush Size slider to adjust the size of your brush to accurately paint the desired area. You can press the right and left bracket keys ([]) to adjust the size of the brush.
  4. Use the Softness slider to gradually blend your strokes. This creates a transition between the effect and the original image. You can press the Shift + right/left bracket keys (Shift+[ and Shift+]) to adjust the hardness of the brush.
  5. Use the Strength slider to control the impact of the brush stroke.
  6. Click and paint on the canvas to dodge and burn.
    • If you make an accidental stroke, use the Erase tool to remove it.
    • Click the curved arrow next to the tool name to reset it if you need to start over.
  7. Use the Overall Amount slider to further refine the global intensity of the tool and blend its effect with the original image.
  8. Exit the Dodge & Burn tool to apply the adjustments.

Using dodging and burning on specific areas of an image can help you bring out the places you want your viewer to look. You can also create more depth in an image by creating darker and lighter areas on your landscapes.

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Rafael Jones

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