Part 3: Secret Effects
You don’t have to use these colour effects for sunsets or other landscapey things. There are plenty of more stylised uses. Here are a couple of examples that will hopefully make you think more creatively.
In Part 1, we used graduated filters to recover changes we made to the main white balance slider, but there is another way — using split-toning. This is the basis for creating effects like those of Masashi Wakui. Have a look at the free tutorial video below for a full workflow. If you want to download the RAW source file to follow along, you can here. This effect works best on cities at night, particularly if they have a lot of illuminated signs.
So, how can you use split-toning to recover white balance? Here’s a before & after of Shinjuku in Tokyo as an example.
- Push White Balance to the Extreme. Push the main white balance slider all the way to the right, up to its maximum of 50000. It will look bad, but we can fix it.
- Recover Colours Using Split-Toning. In the split-toning tab of Lightroom, select a yellowy colour for the highlights, and set a saturation of about 50, and a deep blue for the shadows, with a saturation of 100. You should see a large colour change in your photo.
- Fix Shadows. Most of the effect is complete with white balance and split-toning, but pushing the Shadow Tint in Calibration to one extreme, along with changing the Green and Blue Primary Hues, will help to perfect the shadow colours.
This creates a nice stylised effect for you to then do whatever you want to. In the Wakui effect video below, I cover in detail how I then take the photo from this point, to a finished version as shown below. As always, there are free Lightroom presets for all these effects in the Lightroom develop system.
There is one more special effect involving white balance in Lightroom, and that is turning on streetlights. This is particularly useful when you want to simulate night time in a photo taken in daylight. Check out the free tutorial that covers this in much greater depth. Here’s an example and the workflow:
- Create Point Source of Light. This is a very simple technique using circular gradient filters. Four brush presets for turning on streetlights are included in the free Lightroom Develop System. Start by drawing a small circular gradient over the point source of the light, as shown below, with Temp set for 100, Exposure set at +4.00, and also with boosted Highlights and Lights.
- Enlarge the Point Source. Draw a slightly larger circular gradient around the point source of light, with a Temp of 100, Exposure of +2.00 and a Highlights boost.
- Add Light Spillage to Walls. If this was a real light source, light would naturally spill onto the walls, but at a much reduced level the further the wall was from the point source of light. So, reduce Temp, Exposure and Highlights from the previous step and draw a circular gradient onto the wall near the light in the direction it would naturally fall.
- Add Light Spillage to the Floor. Finally, repeat the previous step but for the floor, reducing the intensity of Temp and Exposure yet again to simulate light fall off.
Repeat these steps until you have a photo you are happy with. To see this example in action, take a look at this tutorial video.
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