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Newborn Photography Black and White Conversion in Lightroom


The Following is an excerpt from the SLR Lounge Lightroom Preset System v5 and accompanying workshop.  The Lightroom Preset System is designed to take you from Ordinary to Extraordinary photos in just a few seconds and clicks. In this tutorial we’re going to be creating a nice soft black and white portrait for a newborn baby captured from the Newborn Photography Workshop where we teach photographers how to take beautiful newborn with any camera using simply natural window light and a reflector.

The complete written tutorial is below, and you can also watched the video tutorial at the end of this article. Here’s a sneak peak at what our image will look like before and after our edit.



Black and White Conversion for Newborns

The first thing we did to this image was adjust our Color Tempurature to taste, and in this case we used the Eye Dropper Tool (W) taking a reading from the fur that the newborn is sleeping on.

After our Color Temperature adjustment we used our “01-10 Base – Soft: 12b Super Soft – B&W” preset to edit our photo. This preset does all of our work for us and after this preset is applied our photo edit is pretty much finished. So let’s go over exactly what this preset did.

First, the Highlights and Whites have been taken down to -60 and -40. This is to smooth out highlights by bringing them closer to the mid-tones and shadows. This adjustment has the effect of softening highlights over skin tones giving us much more evenly lit skin.

Next, Clarity is being dropped to -20 in order to reduce mid-tone contrast. The reduction of mid-tone contrast again helps us achieve a softer and more flattering look. However, I would caution not to take the Clarity slider down too far as it can create an overly-soft looking image completely lacking in contrast and mid-tone detail.

In this black and white conversion the Reds, Oranges, and Yellows in the HSL are being raised, which again is primarily for skin tones. This brightens up the skin tones, further enhancing the soft flattering look.

We have our standard amount of Sharpening for portraits applied to this image which you can see below.

Also worth noting, the preset we selected dialed in a Noise Reduction Luminance setting of +30. Noise reduction was added to the preset in order to quickly reduce a little bit of the pore detail in the skin giving it a slightly smoother overall look. At an amount of +30, we will see a nice smoothing effect over skin, while retaining the majority of our fine detail in the hair, eyes and so forth.

Below is a snapshot of all of our final settings to achieve this look.


To clean up the skin a little we can use the Lightroom 5 Spot Removal Tool to remove some of the more obvious bits of dry skin and hair. Adobe has modified the Spot Removal Tool in Lightroom 5 to operate more like a brush making the tool much more powerful than in previous editions of Lightroom.

Just remember to keep your Spot Removal Tool size small and just large enough for the area you are working so that it doesn’t look unnatural.


Black and White Conversion for Newborns

Here’s  a look at the final before and after of our newborn black and white portrait.





Watch the Video Tutorial

If you would like to see exactly how all of the settings and adjustments were applied, please watch the video below from the SLR Lounge YouTube Channel.

Conclusion and Learn More

We hope you all enjoyed this tutorial. If you are interested in learning more or purchasing the SLR Lounge Lightroom Preset System v5 or the newly released Lightroom Workshop Collection v5, please click any of the links in this article. If you are interested in Newborn Photography Workshop please also check out our Newborn Workshop Collection and Lightroom Presets now available via digital download.

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Post Production Pye
Post Production Pye

I hate speaking of myself in the third person, haha. I am a Partner and professional photographer with Lin and Jirsa Los Angeles Wedding Photography, and the Senior Editor for SLR Lounge Photography Tutorials. I am passionate about photography as an art as well as my part as an educator in the industry. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel and feel free to hit me up with questions anytime on Facebook.

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