Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lightroom Split Toning: Duotone Step-by-Step

There are a several reasons I post a weekly blog to discuss Adobe Lightroom 3.  First, I think it's an incredible application and deserves to be on every photographer's computer.  Second, if it is on your computer it only provides benefit if you know how to use it so I'm happy to share what I know.  Third, it's helping ME to learn more about Lightroom because I can't write about it if I don't know about it.

If you've been following these blog posts, you know it's no secret that my primary source of knowledge on Lightroom comes from Scott Kelby's, The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers.  If you still don't have a copy in your library, click the link above and purchase the book.  When it arrives, wrap it up, put a bow on it and address it to yourself from Santa for Christmas.  You've been good this year, you deserve it. ;-)

Alright, on with the Lightroom post.  This week we're going to do something a little different because using the Split Toning Panel is new to me too so I've decided to do a step-by-step walk through to share what I've learned about processing a duotone image.  Hopefully you can take something away from it as I did.

Selecting an Image

My first task was to flip through the ol' library to try to find an image with which to experiment.  I decided upon this image of my sister and brother-in-law's lab, Tucker.

My goal was to make a "moody" image of the pouting dog so my next step was to put the focus solely on the dog and get rid of any "noise".  The result was the processed crop you see below. 

LR Adjustments = Crop, Exposure -0.3, Clarity +43, Vibrance +20
and some sharpening

Converting to B&W

Now that I have an image to play with I need to convert it to black and white as the first step toward creating my duotone.  To preserve my original, I first made a virtual copy using the tip from last week - Ctrl + '.

We previously reviewed converting images to black and white where I made reference to Scott Kelby's "preferred" method of conversion from his book.  I took his advice this time and performed the following steps:
  1. Selected the Black & White treatment from the Basic Panel.
  2. Pushed the Exposure slider to the right until the highlights just started to blow out.
  3. Pushed the Recovery slider to the right until the highlight clipping warning disappeared (white triangle at top right of histogram).
  4. Pushed the Black slider to the right while holding down the Alt key until I started to see some pure black in the image to provide that black and white "pop".
  5. Bumped the Clarity slider to the right to to provide more midtone contrast.
  6. Used the Tone Curve Panel to further adjust the contrast of the entire image.
The resulting B&W is seen below.

LR Adjustments = B&W Treatment, Exposure +0.87, Recovery 33, Blacks 26, Clarity +82, Highlights +22, Lights -72, Darks +15, Shadows -22

Converting to Duotone

Having converted to black and white the image is already starting to provide that "moody" feel.  I like the looks of this image so I made another virtual copy at this point (Ctrl + ') before moving to the Split Toning Panel.

According to Mr. Kelby, the secret to a good duotone is to ..."just add the color tint to the shadows".  I achieved this by increasing the saturation of the shadows and then adjusting the hue to a color that provided "more mood".

After adjusting these two sliders, I was looking at my very first attempt at processing an duotone image.

LR Adjustments = Split Toning Shadows Saturation 28, Hue 30

... and Then a Funny Thing Happened...

Well, we could stop right here as we've succeeded in creating a duotone image using the Split Toning panel, but I'm not overly excited about the result.  As I committed to doing a "step-by-step", why not finish the journey all the way to the end.

One of the things I like to do when learning a new tool such as the Split Toning Panel is to compare my results with those I'd have gotten with one of the existing Lightroom Presets.  In this case, I made another virtual copy of the original color, cropped image from above and applied the Lightroom Preset "B&W Creative - Sepia Tone".

The duotone I created is on the left, the image converted using the "B&W Creative - Sepia Tone" preset is on the right.  I don't know about you, but I'm liking the image on the right better.  The benefit you get from  comparing your results to those of the presets is that by comparing the slider settings you're able to gain an even better appreciation of how each impacts your images.

Now we're almost to the end. Almost.  While trying the various presets and comparing the results against one another I finally decided on the "B&W Creative - Antique Grayscale" as the one that portrayed the mood I was hoping to achieve.  I also used the spot removal tool to remove the bug or whatever it was from Tucker's neck.  So here (drum roll please) is my final image of the pouting puppy, Tucker...


Well, it's taken a while (not the typical "snippet" post), but we've come to the end of today's journey.  Hopefully it's helped you (it helped me) to appreciate the Split Toning Panel as well as the power of the presets within Lightroom.  Not only can they provide quick, one click development options, but they also provide a great learning experience when you compare and contrast their settings against your own.

As for poor pouting Tucker... don't feel too bad.  If you look closely you'll notice the puppy's fur is still wet from having been playing catch in the lake for more than an hour before this photo was taken :-).

Until next time, keep click'n.


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