Split Toning using Gradient Map

St. Michaels Cathedral, St. Michael's Row, Bridgetown, Barbados

St. Michaels Cathedral, Bridgetown, Barbados

–  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  –

I was reading the three part series of eBooks “The Magic of Black & White” by Andrew S. Gibson which I had purchased from David DuChemin’s Craft & Vision store.  In Part II Andrew show some different effects obtained by using the Gradient Map in Photoshop.  His recommendation for architecture shots was a Blue/Cream split tone.  This I decided I had to try.

I chose a slightly moody shot of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Bridgetown, Barbados.  As happens quite often, especially during winter afternoons (I have never visited in the summer so cannot comment), the sun was shining but there were small rain clouds passing over the island.  I managed to capture the cathedral in full sun but with the darkening sky as a backdrop.  This looked good in color but I thought it would make a great Black & White.

After processing the original RAW file in Lightroom, I opening a “Copy with Lightroom Adjustments” in Photoshop and converted the image to Black & White using Nik Software Silver Efex Pro.  I usually make a quick conversion of a Virtual Copy to Black & White in Lightroom to see if the image will work as expected as a monotone then delete the Virtual Copy.

There were some extreme light and dark ranges on the image which then needed to be brought closer together through a number of curves adjustments, each masked to localize the adjustment.  I always apply the adjustment to the whole image to get the effect I need on the particular area and then apply a black mask to hide the effect.  A soft edge white or grey brush is then used to paint in the effect.  This image needed four separate curves adjustments.

Once I was happy with the overall Black & White image, it was time to try Andrew’s Split Toning Gradient Map trick.  I used his colors with the foreground color set to a dusky blue (Red 75, Green 95, Blue 110) and the background color to cream (Red 230, Green 210, Blue 170).  A Gradient Map layer was then created and the blend mode changed to Color.  As recommended I reduced the Opacity, in this case to 85%.

I have a number of eBooks from Craft & Vision.  For only $5 ($4 when sales are offered, usually when a new eBook is published), I find these to be some of the best value around.

See some of my other Black & White images here.

1 Comment

  1. Nostalrius

    Great post. I read your posts fairly often and you always do a good job explaining the whatever topic you’re blogging about.

    Btw, I shared this on LinkedIn and my followers
    loved it. Keep up the great work!


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