We have talked about how to split tone a portrait before to create a warm/cold tone image. Today I want to talk about how to use split toning for a sunset image to really make the sky pop! This is a really quick way to create a visual pop with a sunset image by split toning it in lightroom. This does really only work for images that are silhouette images. This is because when you are split toning an image in Lightroom you are effecting the entire image and if there is detail in the foreground that can look strange when toned.

I’ll start with an image that was taken before sunset. This isn’t a silhouette photo but we will adjust to make it look like a silhouette.
Lightroom split tone landscape

The first thing I will do to give it a silhouette feel is increase the black levels. The blacks slider in the develop module in lightroom gives you the ability to adjust the darkness of the black areas of the image. I’ll slide this up until it makes the shadows of the foreground very dark and take on the look of a silhouette image.

Then we will go into the Split Toning section of Lightroom. Here you have 5 main sliders. For the highlights and shadows you can adjust the hue and the saturation by using the sliders or clicking on the color box to the right of the sliders and using a color picker to choose a color. In the middle
of the highlight and shadow sliders is a balance adjustment to adjust the impact the highlights have vs shadows. Adjust these sliders to get the color combination you are going for.

After I have adjusted the split tone sliders here is the final image. In this image I used a yellow tone for the highlights and red for the shadows, however there are many other color combinations that work well. Sometimes warm/cold tones work well together. You can try a warm red for the highlights and a cool blue for the shadows. Endless opportunities for creative effects!

Here are some examples of different cool combinations for a sunset split tone like a pink/blue.

Here is the same image with a red/green split tone combo in Lightroom.

Or you can let the sky go crazy and do something like a purple/yellow. Complimentary colors like red and cyan or magenta and green can also work well together. Have fun and let your creative mind explore for a bit.

Have you used the split tone feature for sunsets below? Share your work on our Facebook wall or leave a comment below.

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