Exercise 17: Colours Into Tones – Part 1

This exercise asks to take or select an image that has at least two strong contrasting colours. Blue and green, yellow and blue or green and red. After selecting the image, I am suppose to convert it to B & W. One image should be converted by using default black & white conversion. Followed by two more images with varying tonal contrast.

I have selected an image from my archives. This image was captured at the lake Tekapo. It has a wide range of colour. However, these colours can also be alter by using the same method. The image has the strong blue and green contrast, as required. For the original coloured image other than cloning out unwanted shadow, I have not made any other changes.

I made virtual copies of the image and applied the following procedures.

  • After the default Black and White conversion the converted image looks very flat here. This mainly happens as the option, “Apply auto mix when first converting to black and white” is selected in the preset preference. Due to this all the sliders have been moved.


Here, due to the exercise requirement, I have not made any further adjustment. I can retrieve many details through the sliders, even after Lightroom converts the image to default black and white. This is because after converting the image to black and white Lightroom has preserved the colour data this gives you the flexibility in editing further. However, it is important to remember that one needs to be very careful in making excessive use of these sliders. It can result in to bad halos or the distortion in the colour, especially at the edge where two colours are mixing.

  • Next, the exercise asks to explore the idea of converting the image by using the sliders. Normally I would use the spot select tool to darken or lighten the area with the help of the mouse scroll. However, besides the prominent blue and green, there are so many different colours that I decided to change the colour manually by using the sliders.

For the second variation of the black and white tonal range, I have decided to modify the “Aqua” and “Blue” channels. These were the channels affecting the tones of the sky and the lake. I have shifted they almost to the left corner. I stopped just before I started noticing the clipping in the darker areas.


I have also moved the “Red” and “Orange” channels to the extreme left. That has given more definition to the stone house and the man in the red jacket and some areas in the grass. Now the sky in the image looks more dramatic.

  • Next I modify the “Aqua” and “Blue” channels by moving them in the opposite direction (to the right) to create another tonal range possibility. I have also shifted the yellow and green channels to the left by few points this has brought back some more definition in the grass and the stone area.


When compared to the default grey scale conversion I noticed that with this method, the sky was few shads lighter. There was no clipping in the highlights as I had stopped just before the clipping started occurring.


This exercise was very interesting in interpreting the effect of the tonal range in the black and white image conversion. In respect to this particular image, I can say that I like the 2 version of the image, where I have pulled the “Aqua” and “Blue” channels to the left. The sky is very dramatic. However,  I would not be this aggressive in pulling the channels, as in many situations it can introduce unwanted irregularities.

I had left this image untouched in the archives, as all these years I had only viewed it from the coloured image perspective. The images always had looked very ordinary to me. It was lacking a punch. Now, when I have converted it to B & W the image looks more appealing, and I can see potential in the image. Hence I am going to  further develop this image and plan to put it up on my website.


2 thoughts on “Exercise 17: Colours Into Tones – Part 1

  1. Hey there, Many thanks for producing this awesome article content. I’m extremely amazed with your way with words and how you convey your message. You’ve got a good future in creating blogs, that is certain. Continue the truly amazing work.

    • Thanks for you words. This being my first try at blogging, your comments surely encourages me. I will keep working hard, to expand my knowledge and the blog. See you around.

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