Lightroom is all about adjusting lights and tones in photographs. While adjusting colors it is the split tone that’s quite powerful in Lightroom. Split tones give you options to add color separately to the highlights and shadows. This tool helps us to set a mood to an image.
Before we move on to the technical aspect of the panel, lets learn about color and the mood it creates which will help us to choose a better color for our highlights and shadows.
Generally colors in the split toning are divided into two types, cool color and a warm color. Warm colors are yellow, red, orange, pink where as cool color are blue, green, magenta, cyan. Warm color sets the mood of closeness, positivity, energy where as cool colors are quite opposite which sets the mood of far distance, huge open spaces like sky and ocean and sometimes sadness and loneliness as well.
There are 5 options on this panel as shown in the figure. Hue, saturation on the highlight, balance slider and huge saturation on the shadows. The shortcut for this panel is Ctrl + 4 in Windows and Command + 4 in Mac.
Lets understand these two terms first. Hue and Saturation
Hue is simply a shade of a color. Red, yellow, green or any color can be called Hue.
Saturation determines intensity or a power of a color. For example a red hue on 80 % would be much reddish than on 30%. The higher the value the more stronger the color.
So hue and saturation slider on both highlight and shadow lets you add a hue (shade of a color) and determine the intensity with saturation.
The balance slider helps us to determine which color to make more dominant. If you look at the slider, it is dark on the left side and bright on the right side. If you take your slider to the right, the color you choose in highlights will become more dominant where as if you take it to the left side, the color you choose in shadow becomes more dominant. Here is my technical explanation: if you move the slider to the right side, more of a midtones will be identified as highlights. If you move the slider to the right side, more of a midtones will be identified as shadow.
Lets try adding a color on both shadow and highlights.
Adding yellow tones on the highlight
Adding green tones on the highlight
Adding green color on the highlight and yellow on the shadows
Adding yellow on the highlights and blue on the shadows
Adding yellow on the highlights and blue on the shadows with balance slider towards shadow
Adding yellow on the highlights and blue on the shadows with balance slider towards highlight
Things to consider:
Use of split toning on the portrait should be carried out carefully since we don’t want our skins tones to be unnatural.
If you are working in a series of related images, maintaining the same split toning is recommended for the continuity and consistency of the mood.
We should understand that colors have a potential to set a mood in our image. So the color and the mood it sets should help us to choose the color on highlights and shadow depending on the kind of image we are processing.
Some example of before and after of split tones: