Split Toning in Lightroom: Coloring to Advance Your Images - Digital Photography School

Split Toning in Lightroom: Coloring to Advance Your Images

original.jpgWe’re photographers. Our craft is our work. Our work is our art. To be moving forward with our work, we must be constantly on the search for creativity. We must develop; broaden the perspectives we see and the images we produce and the art we define.

When you come to that point when nothing seems to be new, and you have become stuck in a rut with your images, your editing, your creations, it may be worth your while to take a look at Lightroom’s Split Toning.

I Just Need Perspective

Can’t fix the white balance of an image with Lightroom’s standard White Balance Treatment? Try adjusting the picture with the Split Toning Feature.

The Steps:

  1. Select your image
  2. Adjust your highlights to the tone you desire [to get rid of an orangey tone, try adjusting toward the blues]
  3. Move the Highlights Saturation scroll bar to achieve the desired tone.
  4. Don’t stop there. Evaluate your image. Determine other tones that need fixing.
  5. Adjust your shadows to the tone you desire
  6. Move the shadow scroll bar to achieve the desired tone.
  7. Evaluate image and make adjustments from there.

In Practice:

To warm up this image (the original is above right), I went through all the basic steps above in about 2 minutes.

I simply went to the split toning tool bar, and adjusted my highlights and shadows to add the same lighter but warmer hue to both. From here, I adjusted the balance so the highlights were a bit intensified. Already, my image is markedly where I like it.

I Just Need Change:

Just want to do something different with your images? Many professional photographers have a signature “tone” to their images. Blue hints. Orange hints. Etc. Play around with adding these tones to your pictures to add a bit of flair to the editing style you already have.

The Steps:

  1. Select your image
  2. Adjust your highlights to the tone you desire [Add blue, red, orange, or green tones]
  3. Go too far. Sometimes you won’t discover new things unless you try something you would’ve never done before. Use your scroll bars to go beyond what you normally would, and then adjust from there.
  4. Move the Highlights Saturation scroll bar to achieve the desired tone [make sure you balance the colors already in the image with what you are adding.]
  5. Evaluate your image. Cool? What you want? Needs’ something else?
  6. Adjust your shadows to the tone you desire and move the shadow scroll bar to achieve the desired tone.
  7. Play with the balance between the highlights and the shadows. This will either intensify the shadow tones while minimizing the highlight tones, or it will intensify the highlight tones while minimizing the shadow tones.
  8. Don’t’ stop there. Go to the Hue, Levels, and Saturation toolbar to reduce or accentuate individual color tones in your image. What happens if you eliminate all the greens for example? Or adjust the hue of your reds?
  9. After you have discovered a new angle on your creative editing, be sure to create a preset for your edits. Check out how well it works with other images.

In Practice:

I took this picture of a friend of mine in a little coffee shop in MN. It began slightly cold in tone, and I’ve been enjoying editing with a warmer tint. To achieve this, I added a warmer green yellow hue to my highlights and increased the saturation over 60 percent. I then adjusted my shadows to add an almost lavender hue and saturated it only by 20 percent. The picture still was a bit off, so I then went to my individual colors and de-saturated blues and purples. Viola!

split-toning.jpg

Need Help?

If you want to learn more about split toning, but don’t know how to start, go ahead and begin with Lightroom’s Selenium tone preset. From here, you can adjust the colors, saturation, and balance of split toning without having to start from scratch.

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Christina N Dickson is a visionary artist and philanthropist in Portland Oregon. Her work includes wedding photography www.BrideInspired.com and leadership with www.RevMediaBlog.com.

  • http://www.whoahgirl.com Anne

    Interesting article and good read. I have been debating as to if to try lightroom or not (compared to just being generic and using my computers default photo program). This article finally pushed me over the edge to download a trial and try it out to use these tricks. :)

  • http://www.nightmaircreative.wordpress.com donna

    i actually like the original much better than either tweaked version. but seems that it could be an interesting process to try on some photos

  • http://gelbachdesigns.com William Rackley

    Great article :) I wanted to point out one other thing about the split toning in Lightroom. Often times, adding a slight touch of complimentary (opposite) colors to the two values can add a subtle punch to your images. For example: adding a very subtle blue to the highlights, and a very subtle orange to the shadows.

  • http://pointsoflight.blogspot.com james

    Wouldn’t selective channel editing in Photoshop achieve the same result?

  • http://www.digital-scene.com Digital Scene

    Interesting article, makes me think….. The comments so far are also sound.

    @Donna – I also like the original – the coldness adds to the story of the image in my opinion. it captures thought, a cold emotion, but when tweaked it shows somthing new, happier.

    @james – sure, but this article is about lightroom.

    I think, the fact that the larger images show more “grain” detracts slightly from the photograph. Each image with the subtle tone changes portrays to me a different feeling. That is the art of photography, enjoy and be confident about YOUR work

  • http://www.photoshimona.com S. Carvalho

    I love using split toning, I have a bunch of presets that I skim my mouse over for each picture to see if any particular preset brings out something different and exciting in the picture, or gives it a great mood. Then I apply it and tinker with it. If the tinkering yields something totally different than the original, tadaa, new preset.

Some older comments

  • S. Carvalho

    March 13, 2009 03:54 am

    I love using split toning, I have a bunch of presets that I skim my mouse over for each picture to see if any particular preset brings out something different and exciting in the picture, or gives it a great mood. Then I apply it and tinker with it. If the tinkering yields something totally different than the original, tadaa, new preset.

  • Digital Scene

    February 21, 2009 04:29 am

    Interesting article, makes me think..... The comments so far are also sound.

    @Donna - I also like the original - the coldness adds to the story of the image in my opinion. it captures thought, a cold emotion, but when tweaked it shows somthing new, happier.

    @james - sure, but this article is about lightroom.

    I think, the fact that the larger images show more "grain" detracts slightly from the photograph. Each image with the subtle tone changes portrays to me a different feeling. That is the art of photography, enjoy and be confident about YOUR work

  • james

    February 21, 2009 01:01 am

    Wouldn't selective channel editing in Photoshop achieve the same result?

  • William Rackley

    February 21, 2009 12:38 am

    Great article :) I wanted to point out one other thing about the split toning in Lightroom. Often times, adding a slight touch of complimentary (opposite) colors to the two values can add a subtle punch to your images. For example: adding a very subtle blue to the highlights, and a very subtle orange to the shadows.

  • donna

    February 20, 2009 11:45 am

    i actually like the original much better than either tweaked version. but seems that it could be an interesting process to try on some photos

  • Anne

    February 20, 2009 09:22 am

    Interesting article and good read. I have been debating as to if to try lightroom or not (compared to just being generic and using my computers default photo program). This article finally pushed me over the edge to download a trial and try it out to use these tricks. :)

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