Split Toning, Vignettes, And Camera Calibration In Lightroom 2; Creative Techniques From A Master Image-Maker

This is an excerpt from the chapter on “Global Develop Corrections” found in “Lessons in DSLR Workflow for Lightroom and Photoshop” by Jerry Courvoisier, published by Peachpit Press.

Because of the non-destructive nature of the adjustments in Lightroom, experiment is the key word here. You will learn more without the fear that you are degrading the image. Not every image needs to be adjusted in a specific way. These are only recommendations on getting the boat in the slip, weather permitting.

Split Toning Adjustments
The term split toning comes from the traditional darkroom. Split toning was when a low intensity of a warm or a cool color was added to specific areas of the image, normally to the low to middle tonal areas, while leaving the rest of the image with a neutral appearance. When properly applied, the result can produce an image with greater apparent depth. The digital equivalent of this effect really expands the adjustment to an unlimited range of colors that can be introduced. When applied with Lightroom’s Split Toning adjustments, the effects can sometime change the emotional response of the viewer to the image.

Split Toning adjustments in Lightroom are extremely easy. The Split Toning Panel is divided into three segments to control hue, saturation, and color in highlights and shadows (Figure 1). The middle segment controls the balance between the selected split tone colors in the image. Split toning works on color images but is best realized as a visual effect when applied to a black and
white image.

FIGURE 1—Select a color by clicking the color patch to the right of the words Highlights and Shadows. Use the Panel to select a specific hue and dial up its intensity with the S slider. (All three images shown.)

Choose an image and adjust it as a black and white using the grayscale controls. In the Split Toning Panel, choose a color for the highlights by clicking the color patch to the right of the word Highlights. Another box, called Highlights, will appear for the hue and saturation selection. Position the mouse pointer on a color and click to select the hue. Use the S (saturation) control slider to determine the intensity of the selected color. Clicking the X dismisses the box from view and enables your selection. Proceed to do the same for the shadow split.

Working with split tones, I normally determine a color for the highlights and then find a complementary color for the shadows. Using the Loupe view (press E) preview option, adjust the balance control slider to enhance the mix of the selected colors between highlight and shadows. Subtle changes in color work better when applying Split Toning adjustments to an image. It’s best to not overpower the grayscale image with loud colors and strange color mixes.

In Figure 2 I’m using a yellow highlight and a soft pastel blue as the shadow selection for the split. After spending some creative time adjusting the colors and the balance, I can use my recipe for this specific split tone again if I create a develop preset and reuse the Split Toning settings on another image or series of images in the future.

FIGURE 2—The highlights in this image are a warm yellow with cool blue shadows. To keep this recipe for the Split Toning adjustment, use a develop preset to save time when revisiting the process. (Both images above.)
All Photos © 2008, Jerry Courvoisier, All Rights Reserved

Lens Correction adjustments are sometimes required when a wide-angle lens is used. Depending on the scene recorded, a condition can occur where light falls off along the edges of the frame. Lens vignetting, as it’s called, can be easily corrected using the amount and midpoint sliders (Figure 3).

FIGURE 3—Amount and midpoint control sliders for the Lens Correction adjustment can correct density differences stemming from light falling off
at the edge of the frame.)

Moving the amount slider to the plus side lightens the edges of the frame; to the negative side, it darkens the edges of the frame. The midpoint slider controls how far in from the edge the light or dark vignette expands into the frame. This Lens Correction adjustment can also be used creatively to focus a viewer’s attention on the subject in the scene (Figure 4).

FIGURE 4 (Before-top, After-above)—The negative amount was positioned so that the edges of the frame would become dark, and the midpoint control slider was positioned to let the dark edges expand into the frame gradually.