Photography tools

VSCO adds Dodge and Burn Tools to its iPhone app

VSCO has added an age-old but still powerful set of tools to its iPhone app: dodge and burn. This addition allows users to more precisely control the shadows and highlights of their photos.

For those unfamiliar, dodge and burn refer to two commands used to control shadows and highlights in photos. The technique dates back to the development of film in the darkroom and remains one of the most popular and powerful tools for photographers to refine photos. As VSCO says, by making dark areas brighter (dodge) and making light areas darker (burn), photographers can control the light in their images to correct common problems and guide their viewer’s attention to the image.

VSCO wrote an in-depth blog post in which the company describes the history of dodging and burning and how the techniques of its origin are important for using it today, even in digital media.

Dodge and burn before and after

“Too much light and it’s too dark; not enough and it’s too light. By placing paper cutouts, cones, or even their hands between the negative and the print, and planning the exposure times of each part, darkroom printers could mask out areas of the image so that some parts of the print are exposed more or less than others to create a pleasing final image,” writes VSCO.

VSCO’s dodge and burn tool works similarly to the film technique and tools that exist in dedicated editing programs like Adobe Photoshop: the tool provides a brush size to allow users to exercise considerable control over the amount of image affected by a dodge or burn. . It now sits in the toolbar next to the Blur, Text, Adjust, and Exposure tools.

Dodge and burn before and after

While dodging and burning aren’t breakthrough techniques, their inclusion in mobile apps is less common than editing tools that affect the entire image. This kind of granular control over a specific part of the image is somewhat rare, which makes VSCO’s offering of what looks like a simple add-on stand out.

Dodge and Burn plus a set of 100 movie photo effects added by the company in October are available to all iOS VSCO members, a subscription that costs $20 per year. Unfortunately, the company hasn’t provided any details on when the feature is expected to come to Android devices.