Sometimes the light conditions aren’t ideal when we do have time to take our bookstagram photos. In this case, I took the photo on an overcast day, so the light in my study wasn’t even. This can be seen by the overexposed book spine which was directly facing my window. This problem can be fixed in Photoshop with the burn tool.
Step 1: Duplicate photo layer and select area to edit
Dodging and burning are actions that directly alter the pixels of an image. This means that the original image cannot be recovered. That’s why it’s good practice to duplicate layers and work on the copy. I named my copy layer “Burn Spine” and left the “Main” layer untouched. Select the area to edit in the duplicate layer.
Side note: I also adjusted my curves and colour balance already, leaving the book spine correction last. That way evening out the light will yield the best possible result.
Step 2: Pick the burn tool
Pick the burn tool. You’ll find this in the side pane under the pin, hand or sponge symbols. Set the range to midtones. Burning will darken the exposure of specific areas that you apply it to.
Step 3: Burn selected area
When burning the selected area, I like to use a brush size bigger than the selected area. This will tone down the exposure across the board. Then I reduce the size and clean up smaller patches within the selected area.
Step 4: Reduce harshness of dividing line
The thing about burning a selected area usually is that there will be a harsh line between the edited area and the rest of the image. One way to overcome this is to go in free hand and not pre-select the area. Then there won’t be such a starkly visible divide. The alternative is to dodge and burn along the line. Here I burned the edge with a small brush size.
Step 5: Clean up
The last step is to zoom in and clean up. I often find myself zooming in to 400% which isn’t quite so big for pixel-by-pixel edits but large enough that if an image looks cleaned up at that size, there won’t be any visible problems at 100% anymore.