Dramatic black and white conversion of a landscape photo in Lightroom CC

Dramatic black and white conversion of a landscape photo in Lightroom CC

Lightroom is the first editing software I use to post process my photos. This editing technique of turning a photo to black and white is presented using the latest edition, Lightroom CC but can be applied easily in Lightroom 6 or 5.

When editing for black and white you should concentrate on light, texture and shape for a dramatic effect. Creating a better contrast can help emphasize different elements of the photo. The photo was made during a sunset where the entire sky was covered in clouds.

The gear used for the shot was a Canon 5D Mar II and my Canon 17-40mm F4 L lens with a circular polarizer on. As a tripod I’m using my Manfrotto 055CX PRO3 series and a 3 stop ND gradual LEE filter. The tripod is essential in landscape photography and as you can see here the exposure time was 1.5 seconds which is impossible to be shot hand held.

First I start by using the spot removal tool in Lightroom to correct some issues with dirt on my camera sensor. This is straight forward and easily done. Then I correct the perspective of the lens by checking Enable profile correction and Remove chromatic aberrations. Adjusting the masking of the sharpness is a good way to ensure less noise in your photo.

Then I decide that I need to crop the photo for a more powerful composition: so I’m using the crop tool in Lightroom. The initial conversion to black and white is not that spectacular but I’m starting to adjust the color channels luminosity, especially the yellow channel.

For local adjustments I start with a graduated filter from Lightroom for better details in the clouds and also for a more dramatic look. To achieve this result I’m lowering the Exposure and the Black points. Then I consider that darkening the left lower corner will improve the image so I use another graduated filter for this area. You can also use the Brush tool from Lightroom to achieve the same effect especially on areas where you want to affect only certain elements.

My goal is to create a contrast effect between the trail and the main rock formation and the rest of the photo. That is why I’m lowering the overall Exposure of the photo and add some contrast and clarity. Then, using a Radial filter and a brush I’m increasing the luminosity of the trail and the rock. This process is fairly simple to use and understand and you can easily apply it to your photos!

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