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How to Use the Split Toning Panel in Adobe Lightroom

If you want to give your pictures a particular look (e.g. cinematic) or feel, you can use the Split Toning panel in Lightroom. I will show you how this simple, but powerful tool works.

Let’s get started!

As always, import your image into Lightroom.

Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 10.58.43 AM

Go to the Split Toning tab, and you’ll see 5 sliders. For now, we’ll just concentrate on the Hue and Saturation sliders (forget the Balance).Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 10.58.55 AM

As the name Split Toning suggest, the sliders allow us to tweak the colors of only certain parts of the image (Highlights and Shadows).

Let’s begin with the Highlights. Slide the Saturation slider (of Highlights) to a value of 50. It doesn’t have to be exactly 50; it’s to show us what is targeted by the slider. As you can see, the image has turned reddish.Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 10.59.12 AM

Now, slide the Hue slider. As you do so, the image will shift colors: red, yellow, green, blue… You can also click on the little colored rectangle to the right of “Highlights”. It will bring up the Color Picker. For this particular image, I wanted the sky to me even bluer.Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 10.59.23 AM

Then, reduce the saturation. It will make the image look more natural (as opposed to looking like it has a reddish or bluish filter over it).Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 10.59.37 AM

Now repeat the same steps but for the Shadows.
Here’s a tip: you should select complementary tones for the Highlights and the Shadows, because they create the strongest contrast for those particular two colors (which basically means they look good together).Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 10.59.49 AM Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 11.00.14 AM

As you may (or may not) have noticed, the difference between the original and the final image is very small in this case, but if you wanna go crazy on the saturation sliders, that’s up to you! Experiment with different kinds of tone combinations for the Highlights and Shadows.

And there you have it: how to use the Split Toning Panel in Lightroom!

See you all next week.
In the mean time, get out there and keep shooting!