Lightroom: Split toning for sepia

When I was a kid I read book after book about African ‘Boy’s Own’ adventures, writes Andrew James. For some reason, this meant that in my head Africa has always been sepia-toned; a dusty, rose-tinted world that fed my imagination. Of course, I knew it wasn’t really like that but on my first visit I recall being slightly disappointed that it didn’t quite live up to my imagination.

After that trip, I came home and processed my images normally. Except for some rhino images that I processed as a small set of sepia-infused photos. I’d forgotten about them until I found them in a box in the attic recently. Looking at them it made me want to try the style again because, as individual images, not one of them really was a standout, but as a set they worked. I started wondering what, in more recent African images, could work in this style?

Those first sepia Rhino images were created in an early version of Photoshop because Lightroom hadn’t been invented. How then, would I create the style I wanted in Lightroom now? Well, that’s what I will show you in the video and I’ll be using the Split Toning options. That and remind you how to create a Collection and a Preset.

Hunting back through some images from Kenya, I quickly settled on lions as my theme. In the main, with a few exceptions I picked images that I did nothing with before. They’ve just sat in my hard drive taking up space. I didn’t deem them bad enough to delete but I didn’t think they were good enough to develop. However, with a specific style in mind, it started me thinking differently about the images. Would some of those pictures really come to life with a new way to process them? The answer to that has been a resounding yes!

A sepia look for a slightly sleep lion, all created in Lightroom.

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