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While printing in a darkroom...

To burn is to add light to one portion of a print in order to increase the exposure to that part of the image. This is usually done to bring down highlights (bright spots) or to make annoying features of an image disappear fade into black.

Goes hand in hand with dodging as one of the two main printing techniques one needs to master.


The question has been raised about the veracity of the above statements concerning light in relation to exposure in prints. When you're working with a camera and a negative, the more light that is exposed onto the film creates a denser negative: this translates into a negative that prints "lighter" or "whiter".

The reverse is true while working with a negative and paper. The more light you add to a print, the further the image travels from its original state (stark white).

Thus, burning a print (adding light) makes the burned area darker, "blacker", or more dull.