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A lot of professionals these days avoid Photoshop's dodge and burn tools as they are difficult to control. There is a nice alterative though. Create an empty layer above your image and fill it with 50% grey (it's a dropdown option in the fill dialog) now set the layer to 'overlay' or 'soft llight' You will find when you paint on the grey layer with black or white using a brush it will do exactly the same thing as dodge and burn. Black burns and White dodges. You have a lot of control as you can control opacity and flow, hardness and shape of the brush and if you make a mistake you just switch color so you can recover if something looks overdone
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Unfortunately, Dodge and Burn tools have one notable shortcoming; each dodge or burn dab is incorporated into the image. This makes it impractical or impossible to undo one or more of the changes minutes later, when other dabs have been added elsewhere in the image. Instead, you must then pile correction on correction rather than modifying the original image values. It is an inefficient and often destructive procedure.
There is another way – one that puts the dodge and burn adjustments on a separate layer where they may be seen at any time and each adjusted or even eliminated, returning the area to its original value – all without corrupting the original image. It takes longer to describe than to do.
Load a file to be retouched and add a blank layer by clicking on the Create a New Layer symbol at the bottom of the Layers panel to the left of the Trash. The blank layer is Layer 1.
Choose Edit > Fill and from the double-arrow options of the Use field, choose 50% gray. Then click OK. The image area will become gray overall.
Change the Blending mode in the Layers panel from Normal to Overlay. The Background image will return although you will be working on Layer 1.
Do not use the Dodge and Burn tools. Choose the Brush tool and adjust its size by tapping either of the square brackets to the right of the P key on the keyboard. To adjust the Brush hardness – a soft edge is best for this -- hold down the Shift key as you continually strike the left the square bracket. Set the Opacity of the Brush in the Options bar at about 10% and a times, less.
Painting in white will Dodge (lighten) the area, Black will Burn (darken) the area. Strike the D key to place Black as the Foreground color and White as the Background color. To transpose them stroke the X key. Dab or stroke with the Black to slowly add density. To lighten an area, dab or stroke with White. Although the image will reflect the changes, they are being recorded on Layer1 and may be viewed by turning off the eye in the Background layer. Best of all: to undo any tone adjustment and return the area to its original value at any time, simply return that area to 50% by cloning from an adjacent unretouched area in Layer 1.
EDIT: Sorry for the redundant post. I put together my reply while Terri Stevens had posted her contribution.
great minds think alike Professor, but your reply was a lot more detailed than mine. It's really nice when people who know what they are talking about agree with me
One footnote to my original post:
You indicated that some of your burn (or dodge) efforts are too hard and obvious. With the method I outlined, I neglected to mention one more advantage: you can use the Lasso tool on part of the area (or the entire area) and apply Gaussian Blur (or the even the blur tool) to soften the edges of your brushwork. Best of all, you can do it while watching its effect on the full color image.
Thank you for the advice everyone. I will have a go with all the ideas and report back.