How to add dramatic black and white look in Lightroom


In this tutorial I will be processing a photo into back and white and will show you how to create dramatic black and white look using Lightroom. Let’s get started!


We are going to start by choosing a picture and importing it into Lightroom. Dramatic look works great on photos with clouds so I chose this beautiful seascape shot with a cloudy sky.

1First thing you want to do is check if  horizon line is straight. In this case it’s a little crooked so let’s correct it really quick by using straighten tool. Find long horizontal or vertical line and apply Straighten tool by clicking and dragging it across the selected line. This tool is very helpful then you edit pictures shot without tripod.

P.s. you can also do this by going to Lens Correction panel and selecting Enable Lens Corrections/ Remove Chromatic Aberrations and  Auto. This will automatically make vertical lines vertical and horizontal lines horizontal.

2Lets adjust the BASIC panel. I usually start by turning Highlights all the way down and Shadows all the up. After we are going to adjust white and black points. When you are on White, hold the ALT key and you will notice that screen turns black. Move slider to the right until you will see some details showing up. Then do the same with Blacks, but instead move slider to the left until you start seeing details showing up, I usually move the Black slider farther than the White one.

3Next thing we are going to do is adjust exposure and contrast. We want this photograph to look dramatic so lets move exposure slider down and contrast up. Move sliders until you’re happy with what you see, it all depends on your personal taste. And lastly put clarity up fairly high, it will add more contrast which will show once we turn this image into black and white.

4Now we will use Graduated Filter tool (M) to add even more drama to our image. Select Graduated Filer tool, make sure it’s on Exposure mode and move slider left a few stops and apply it by clicking and dragging the mouse up or down.

5Lets go to HSL panel and click on B&W which will turn photograph into black and white. Then adjust the colour sliders to your liking. Even though the image is black and white now, we can still  adjust colours. For instance we know that clouds were blue so by moving Blue slider you can make them darker, try every slider and see what they do.

6Lets use the Adjustment Brush tool (K) to soften the water and darken the sky. First select a new brush, turn exposure up a few stops and turn Clarity all the down. Let’s paint the water, you’ll notice that it becomes more soft and loses some of the highlights.

7Next we will select a new brush and paint the sky. Turn Exposure down a few stops and Clarity up fairly high.

8Lets move to Detail Panel, it will allow you to sharpen the image and get rid of any noise. I usually move sharpening up to between 60 and 80 and set Luminance to around 40. Numbers will be different for each image so play with sliders until you like how it looks.

9And the last thing we are going to do is add a vignette. So open Effect panel and adjust the very first slider. You’ll notice that if you move it to the right if will add white vignette and if you move to the left it will add black vignette. In this case I’m choosing black one. Again play with the slider until you find the sweet spot.
10  And here it is, we turned flat colourful image into dramatic black and white photograph.

11And that’s it, we processed colourful image into dramatic black and white photograph. You can really see the different in before and after images. It wasn’t that hard right? I recommend you to try it out and play with the adjustments, it’s fun and you can turn pretty boring picture in to something that really stands out.

I would like to thank you for reading this article, our team appreciate that very much. Hope this was helpful, interesting and time well spent. See you in the next tutorial!



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