7 Steps to Great Black & Whites in Lightroom 5

In the quick tutorial below, Levi Sim shows us the workflow he uses to create black and white images using the increasingly popular Lightroom 5. The tutorial is easy to follow and offers professional results making it a great starting point for those of you wanting to learn more about the technique:

In the tutorial, Sims started with a color portrait he took with studio lighting to create the base look he was going for. After doing some minor touch ups, such as blemish removal and correcting the balance, he converted the image to black and white.


The original image after minor tweaking.

Here is a quick rundown of the process:

  1. To get started, open your image in Lightroom and click on the Black & White button on the toolbar on the right hand side of the Develop module. This will open color channel sliders.
  2. Grab the targeted adjustment tool and use it to adjust the tonal values of the colors of the original image by hovering over select areas of the image.
  3. Use the Tone Curve function to lighten the lights and darken the darks to your taste. You can also use the Basic adjustment sliders such as highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, etc. to further enhance the tones.
  4. Grab the Adjustment Brush to fine-tune the exposure in the eyes separately from everything else.
  5. At this point, you can also use a density filter and dodge and burn to lighten or darken areas of the image that need it. This will help bring focus to the subject’s face.
  6. Sharpen the image. Pay close attention to the lips to enhance clarity and brighten the details. Increase the masking in the Details tab. Press and hold ALT or the Option key to make sure you are only sharpening the edges of things instead of the skin.
  7. Add a Split Tone to the image to tint the highlights. Natural colors, such as copper, work well for split toning, but it can also be fun to experiment with subtle colors.
And the finished image.

The finished, black and white image.

As you see, the process is quick and easy. Keep in mind that you don’t have to use the exact settings Sim uses in the tutorial. Your image will vary from his as far as lighting, mood, and style, so it is important to play around with the sliders to create an image you are happy with.

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One response to “7 Steps to Great Black & Whites in Lightroom 5”

  1. Claude B. says:

    Super! I’m thirsty, I want more from you. :)

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