Some images simply pop in color and can stand a healthy dose of vibrance. Others just work better in black and white. Luckily, with digital RAW capture, you can postpone the decision of whether to finish an image in color or black and white until you get back home and can work with it in the digital darkroom. Then, you can render an image in multiple ways until its perfect. When render a black and white image in Lightroom, the Greyscale Mix is a great tool that’s been well covered. There’s another tool, however, that you can use on black and white images that you might not be as familiar with. It’s the Split Toning tool.
The Split Toning tool allows you to add a color tint to the highlights and shadows of your images. Why would you want to do that to a black and white image? Well, some of the magic in black and white printing is that black and white prints aren’t always perfectly neutral. In fact, as photographers who have worked in the chemical darkroom know, there various black and white paper emulsions produce a range of tones that give prints a warm or cool look. Part of the skill that goes into making a great print is choosing the right paper to give the finished print the right tone.
Let me show you an example. Here’s the before and after views of one of the images I took a few weeks ago in Wiesbaden, Germany. It’s an image of one of the fountains in front of Das Kurhaus. It’s an image that I didn’t like so much in color because of the various temperatures of light in the scene, but really liked in black and white.
What’s not obvious at first glance is that the image on the right isn’t a purely neutral image. In fact, I’ve used split toning to cool the shadows and warm the highlights. To show you the effect of the tool, here’s a movie that you scan scrub back and forth through and see the effect of the Split Toning tool.
Here’s the final settings for the Split Toning control that I used for the image:
Now that you can see how it’s done, you can view the result in a larger size on Flickr.