Using “Split Toning” In Lightroom

Jan 14, 2020


Split toning is quite an interesting concept, and although I don’t use it very often, when I do it creates some quite engaging results. There are times when an image doesn’t have a good deal of colour in it to start with, but if a black and white treatment was to be used there are so many areas of shadow and highlight that the final mono image would be too busy. Now that might just be a personal preference, but isn’t all photography about personal preference?

Let me start by outlining what split toning is, just in case you haven’t come across it before. As you will probably know, an image has a range of tones (i.e. brightnesses) from completely black to completely white, with a graduated range of greys between those two extremes. Split toning is merely the process of adding a colour tint to the image based on the brightness of the pixels. This image demonstrates how blue has been added to the dark range, and yellow into the brights.

The extent of the saturation in each tonal range, and the balance between lights and darks, along with the actual hues added as tints can be finely controlled in Lightroom.

The split toning which I used for this image of St Cwyfan’s Church in the Sea approximates that split toning range and hues, so hopefully you can see how it has affected the image. The image used had very little colour in it to start with and so I felt this treatment made it somewhat more engaging. In fact, without the split toning I would probably have abandoned the image altogether!

Of course, you can still use split toning in an image which has a good deal of colour to start with, to enhance mood and atmosphere or create drama in any way you choose. You can add any hue into the shadows or the highlights to create interesting effects. If you haven’t used split toning before why not experiment with it? You may find it’s quite an interesting process to have some fun with.

Do let me know if you found this helpful, or if you have any questions about split toning or any other post processing procedures do feel free to get in touch and ask questions.


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