Black and White Images Using Lightroom

Sometimes you might find that the light just isn’t quite working or perhaps the subject is looking a little flat for a colour image. These are the times to look at the landscape a bit differently … and try to visualise the image in mono.

You should always shoot a colour image and not use the in-camera blank and white functions as the conversion should always be made at the processing stage. Keeping a keen eye on the Histogram its often useful to slightly under expose the image so that the sky has plenty of detail and tonal range. However if the foreground has too many dark tones it might be worth capturing two exposures (on a tripod) for the sky and foreground and combining them as a double exposure.

Once you have taken the image, here are some techniques to convert your file into Black and White using Lightroom.


Begin by importing your files into Lightroom, select the image you want to convert and open it in the Develop Module. Processing a black and white image is much the same as you would in colour, however because B&W is in effect “abstract” it gives you more freedom to stretch out that histogram and over exaggerate the dark and light tones to make a more foreboding scene.

02To make the initial conversion click on “Black & White” in the Basic tab on the right hand side. You can then begin to make exposure adjustments using the global sliders below. Quite often with landscape images you will bring the exposure up to make the foreground pop, and then you can bring back the sky by using the Gradient tool.


When you have a good tonal range and have filled the Histogram then add contrast to the image. Using the Tone Curve you can make the darker areas darker and the lighter areas lighter. Again being B&W feel free to push these further than you would with the colour version.


Once the global adjustments have been made then its time to make more local adjustments using the Graduation and Brush tools to lighten or darken smaller areas. Even though the image is in B&W you can adjust the saturation of individual colours which can darken or lighten the blues or greens for example.

Lastly a useful tool in Lightroom is “Post-Crop Vignetting”, use these sliders to darken down the edges of the frame to really bring focus to the subject.

Once processed then use you usual workflow to export the High Res jpeg ready to print.


This image was taken on our workshop to Stainforth. To join us for a day of Landscape Photography in the Yorkshire Dales, take a look at our website

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