I’m not a big user of Photoshop Actions or Lightroom Presets but every once in a while I get a wild hair and like to tone an image for creative effect in Lightroom.
Typically split toning is performed on Black and White images with the end result to give a slight color tint to the shadows and highlights. I often use this technique to warm up a black and white images with a slight coffee tone, however the same technique can be used with color images to create a special effect much like cross processing with film or using a gel on your lighting. This is what I’m going to perform after the jump.
If you’ve ever edited an image in Lightroom and gotten to the area that says Split Toning and then just kept going because you had no idea what it was for, I’m going to show you how to quickly and efficiently tone an image.
I recently purchased a new camera and like I do with any new camera, I end up taking 2k shots around the house of inanimate objects to get a feel for it before heading out into the streets. The first shot below is one of those images, sorry nothing special but as I was inspecting it in Lightroom I thought it would be interesting to use the split toning effect to play off the name of the Microphone Manufacturer “Blue”
Below is the image as it came out of the camera with a few slight edits, crops etc… Feel free to copy this image off the site and use it to test the split-toning feature on your computer.
With the basic edits in place, (in the Develop Module) we now jump down to the split toning section and begin with toning the highlights. The process works by first selecting a Hue that you would like your highlights to display and then using the Saturation slider to introduce that hue into your image until it is pleasing to your eye. You will do the same process with the shadows as well, sliding both the Highlights and Shadows sliders back and forth until you get an effect that you like and works for your image.
One problem with the Split Toning feature is it’s a little bit like working in the dark. You select a hue but you can’t see what color you are using until you start increasing the saturation. This can be a little frustrating.
POWER TIP: There is a solution, if you hold down your Option Key on the Mac or Alt Key on the PC while you are sliding the Hue slider you can preview the color on your image making it much easier to find one you like. Once you have found a hue that works release the option/alt key and then dial in your saturation to your liking.
Below are the settings I used along with the after image of the Blue Microphone.
While probably not an image that I’ll ever use for anything it has certainly taken on a much cooler (no pun intended) appearance.
I’ll share one more edit with you, this image is from a trip to the Grand Canyon and while a typical edit of this image is just fine adding a little spit toning to it can give it a little something extra.
And here are the Split toning settings I used for this image and the after picture.
Power Tip #2: Once you find a color combo that you like you can save it as a Lightroom Preset to save yourself a little time the next time around. To create a Lightroom Preset, select the + icon in your presets panel to create a new preset.
Then click the Check None button to deselect all the settings and then check just the Split Tone setting. Give your Preset a Name and Save it into a Folder of your choosing or in the default location and click Save. The next time you edit an image you can select the preset directly from your presets menu.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, if you have other creative uses or tricks for Split Toning in Lightroom or have examples of Split Toning in your own work we’d love to see and hear them. Just leave us a comment below.
© Cris Mitchell