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How to find your creative style using “Separate tinting”

In my opinion, Lightroom's most underrated tool is Separate Toning. Meanwhile, this is not only a wonderful opportunity to fix many problems in photography, but also a great way to develop your own creative style of image processing.

If you are not familiar with “Separate tinting,” then its essence is this: you apply a specific hue separately to the shadows and lights of the image to get color separation without changing the brightness.

Below is a great example of how Separate Toning works. This is a standard gradient map, from pure black to pure white, which shows how the shadows turn into lights:

If we go to the “Separate Toning” module in Lightroom and apply a yellow tone to the lights and blue to the shadows, then the gradient map will look like this:

In this example, I want to add a warm shade to the lights so that the scene looks more like the one I saw when shooting:

There are several ways to choose the applied tones, but I advise you to use one trick: moving the “Color Tone” slider, hold down the Option key on Mac or Alt on PC - this will show the saturation of each tone by one hundred percent so that it is easier to determine the desired shade.

When you decide on the color you want to apply, just release Option / Alt and move the saturation slider to the desired level.

Another way to choose is to click on the rectangle in the upper right corner above the lights and shadows, and then use the eyedropper to select the desired color.

Once the desired tones are selected, using the “Balance” slider, you can make a greater emphasis on lights, shadows, or leave it at a value of 0, so that both get equal weight.

Below is what happened after applying separate tinting.

We were able to make the lights warmer and the shadows cooler using the cinematic combination “teal and orange”. This is a great example of how you can fix the problem and at the same time approach the post-processing a little more creatively.

When you find a combination of lights and shadows that you especially like, you can simply save these changes in “Separate Toning” as a preset and then apply it to any other image. This is a wonderful way to save time and give all your pictures a distinctive style, which will allow you to develop your own creative “style”.

Lightroom video tutorial by landscape photographer Mark Danny.
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