Colour grading black & white images in Lightroom is apparently a thing – Here’s how to do it

Jan 8, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Colour grading black & white images in Lightroom is apparently a thing – Here’s how to do it

Jan 8, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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This kind of struck me as a little bit weird at first. Mostly because it was something I’d never even considered. Toning, sure, but split toning the shadows and highlights separately on a black and white image that doesn’t actually have any native colour whatsoever? Yeah, kinda weird. But the more I watched this video from photographer Anthony Morganti, the more it intrigued me.

It’s an interesting idea, to add colour to a black & white image – and not in the colourising sense, but doing the same kind of shadow and highlight tints we might typically do to a colour image or video sequence. For stills, though, in Lightroom, it’s pretty easy to do, too.

In the 8-minute video, Anthony goes over the process multiple times. It’s not that it’s a difficult or complex process (it only really takes advantage of Lightroom’s “Color Grading” tab), just that there’s a lot to colour theory and figuring out what goes with what. So, Anthony uses different image examples to talk through complementary colours, triad colours and analogous colours.

I’m not sure it’s a technique I’d want to employ often in my own imagery – at least not for black & whites – but it is a pretty interesting technique that can add new dimension to your otherwise mono shots.

Is this a technique you use with your black & whites?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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2 responses to “Colour grading black & white images in Lightroom is apparently a thing – Here’s how to do it”

  1. Benson Stein Avatar
    Benson Stein

    Yes, I use this technique. For it to not look garish, it must be used subtlety. When done minimally and right, it can really pop the photos.

  2. Trino Pam Avatar
    Trino Pam

    Looks ugly…?