Adobe Lightroom offers a powerful range of tools for converting your images to monochrome and fine-tuning the tones. In this tutorial we’ll share some of the top Lightroom black and white tips for taking more control over the conversion process.
When it comes to converting images to monochrome, the best tools for the job all share something in common: they let you fine-tune the brightness of different colour ranges during the conversion. One such tool is Lightroom’s HSL Panel.
We’ll use it here, but rather than simply converting to mono we’ll use a method that allows us to fine-tune the mono effect with the Basic Panel’s colour sliders.
There are good reasons to use Lightroom rather than Photoshop for mono conversions. Any changes you make won’t alter pixels until you Export, and because the settings are not accumulative, you can fine-tune the conversion with the Basic Panel’s Temperature, Tint and Saturation controls (settings you’d normally associate with adjusting colours) even after you’ve converted the image to mono.
So you have an excellent degree of control over the look of your images, and you can dodge and burn with the Adjustment Brush. Here’s how it works…
How to convert to black and white in Lightroom
01 Strip out the colour
Go to the Library Module in Lightroom, drag in the bw_before.dng file and click Import. Next, go to the Develop Module. Scroll down to the HSL Panel. Click HSL, then the Saturation tab. Drag all eight sliders back to -100 to strip the image of colour completely.
02 Adjust colour brightness
Click the Luminance tab, then experiment with the sliders to alter the brightness of the colours. Set Red -76, Orange +29, Yellow -33, Green -26. The other four colour sliders have no effect because there’s very little of those colours present, so leave them at 0.
03 Fine-tune the mono look
Scroll up to the Basic Panel on the right. Experiment with the Temp and Tint sliders and note how they have an effect on the look of the black-and-white treatment. The Saturation slider acts like a volume slider for all the other changes. Set Temp 9385, Tint -2, Saturation -31.
04 Boost the tones
Use the Basic Panel sliders to add punch and control detail in parts of the tonal range. Set Contrast +26, Highlights -30, Shadows +23, Whites -28, Clarity +38. Scroll to the Detail Panel. Zoom in. Set Amount 51 and Radius 1.4 to sharpen, then Luminance 26 and Detail 63.
05 Dodge and burn
Grab the Adjustment Brush from the Toolbar, zoom in close to the face and click on the eye to set a pin. Paint over the eye and set Exposure 0.65, Contrast 23, Highlights 32 to lift the eye. Next, click New, then paint over the bottom-right corner and set Exposure -1.0 to darken it.
06 Add a warm split tone
Scroll to the Split Toning Panel. Hold Alt and drag the Highlights Hue slider to preview the colour change. Once you’ve chosen a colour, use the Saturation and Shadows sliders to control the intensity. We’ve set Highlights Hue 60, Saturation 18, Shadows Hue 18, Saturation 20.
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