This article talks about using (but not limited to) the “Split Toning” controls in Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom for digital color images, without going through the black and white version. It is not related to the classic darkroom techniques for film photography.
Normally, split toning is the process of taking a black and white image and adding different color tints to the highlights and shadows. In Adobe Lightroom, the split toning controls could also be considered an extension of the HSL controls, but I find it just as powerful when working directly on color images as well.
Many photographers use abnormal white-balance settings as a means of creatively enhancing their images. Making a scene more warm or cold can have a great impact on the way it is perceived. Sure, I’m not talking about most stock photography genres, editorial uses or certain types of shots for advertising. Cross-processing can most widely be found in creative personal portfolios and photo communities and it can really help images stand-out from the crowd, because of the way they are perceived.
Color theory is an important part of photography and design of any form, and it is something that every photographer should train themselves to know. But have you ever considered that besides using powerful colors as main subjects in your images, you could also be inducing various moods just by discretely adding color casts to the highlights or shadows?
Most photographers have a large archive of images on their hard drives and a personal workflow to manage it all. Besides rating and editing new batches of photos, I feel everybody should also get into the habit of going back to past images and re-evaluating some of them. You might be surprised of what you might find!
This topic seems to be neglected by most photographers, confident that their initial impressions and selections are the best ones. It’s not always the case. Here are some important reasons for you to go “back in time” and re-consider images that you put aside the first time around:
1. Great images you might have missed
Unless you have a lot of experience, it takes (a long) time to view your own images objectively. When you shoot a new batch of pictures and go through your routine workflow steps, you always reach the crucial point of making proper selections/ratings. However, whether you know it or not, your decisions are affected by your own enthusiasm (you are thrilled you managed to get a difficult shot but which is not actually that good). The stories inside your head may not always get understood by viewers of your portfolio. That’s why you need to let some time for the images to “breathe”, to get past that initial enthusiasm in order to view them more like a stranger. As a matter of fact, you should consider adding a new step in your photography workflow: not seeing your new images for a few days at least. I’ll surely write about this topic in a future post, I find it very important.
Revisiting your old galleries might make you see them from a fresh perspective, you could discover images you ignored in the first place. Try it!