Nikon D7000, 85mm f/1.8 D lens, f/5.6, 1/125s, ISO 400.

Great black and white images require more than simply removing the color, and Lightroom 5 is a really powerful tool for making memorable black and white photographs. Take a look at this video to see the seven steps I take to make a terrific B&W image from any color image.

Rob Sylvan and I will be doing a Google+ hangout on February 19th at 1pm Eastern (10am Pacific) to discuss how to finish great black and white images using Adobe Lightroom 5 (we’ll also share some organizational gems, so don’t miss it!). You can join the event here, and these are links to Levi and Rob.

Following are some of the settings I mentioned in the video:

Real Iris

These are the settings I use in the Adjustment Brush to gently enhance eyes (K is the shortcut for the Adjustment Brush). I usually use this with the brush set to 100% flow and opacity. Click on the drop down arrows next to where it reads “Real Iris” and you can choose to “Save Current Settings As New Preset.”

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 9.55.12 PM

These are some favorite tints for finishing your black and whites; try these in the Split Toning tab. Use the Preset tab on the left to make a preset including only the Split Toning checkbox to keep these handy for the future.

Copper Hue:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 9.55.58 PM

Scott Kelby’s

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 9.56.31 PM

Grape Dreamsicle:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 9.56.14 PM

Blue 227

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 9.55.43 PM

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Join the conversation! 13 Comments

  1. […] Watch the video, read the full article and find out more about an upcoming Google+ Hangout on the subject here. […]

  2. Hmmm, I wonder if LightRoom 5 is worth the upgrade from 4? But anyway, even though I typically use an HDR style effect on my b/w images during editing – I might explore this tip.

    • There are a few significant upgrades from 4, especially related to brushes. There’s new features in every brush, including the spot removal tool, and whole new brush I use frequently called the Radial Gradient. For $79, it’s definitely made my workflow faster. (Although, I actually use the Creative Cloud so I get the updates all the time without additional charge or consideration)

  3. What a wonderful video, very easy to follow along. Thank you very much for displaying your knowledge, much appreciated.

  4. Thanks Levi. I always learn one or two golden nuggets with each new post and video, especially when you show snapshots of your settings that let me recreate the same on my machine. Keep it up.

  5. Thanks for the Lightroom tips. I don’t use it as much as I should for editing.

  6. You did not mention NIK. I have been using Color Efex Pro 2 with Photoshop CS3 for outstanding B&W’s.


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About Levi Sim

Passion drives Levi to make photographs, teach, and help new friends. He tells people he's a photographer, but he really does more than just make pictures. His professional photography is primarily commercial work for businesses, both small and large, and he really helps show how great it'd be to work with those companies. He excels at photographing people, from two-year-olds to oil field workers to couples married for 60 years, everyone has a good time making pictures with Levi. Besides people and businesses, Levi enjoys all other aspects of photography, and practices landscapes and still life, as well. Other people enjoy photographing everything, and Levi wants to be able to help, so he practices as much as he can to be ready to help. He also runs a local photography club, is a Rotarian, actively helps at church, is a husband, and poppa to a peppy four-year-old girl. Levi writes regularly for and is co-author of books on Adobe Lightroom.


Adobe, Photography, Portrait, Shooting, Software


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