How To Create Grayscale Images in Lightroom 5

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How To Create Grayscale Images in Lightroom 5

The color image of the church is on the left and the completed grayscale version is on the rtight.
From color to grayscale in Lightroom 5.

It should come as no surprise that a lot of the color correction duties usually handled by Photoshop are now being handled by Adobe Lightroom 5. One of the main reasons behind this is the tools in Lightroom are seen as being a lot more robust than their Photoshop counterparts. As well, Lightroom natively manages Camera Raw images without the use of a plug in.

In this “How To” we are going to continue the Grayscale series and use Lightroom 5 for the task.

Let’s get started. 

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How To Convert An Image To Grayscale In Lightroom 5

The image is opened in Lightoom's Develop Mode.
The process starts in Develop mode.

Once you have identified an image for conversion in your Lightroom Library, click the Develop mode to open the correction panels. When the panels appear on the  right side of the interface, twirl down Basic and click Black & White. The image will appear as a grayscale image. Obviously there is some work to be done here to add a little bit more drama than the result shown.

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How To Use Tone Curves In Lightroom 5

The Tone curve panel is shown on the right side of the image.
The Curves are invaluable.

 In the above image I wanted to improve the contrast between the slats in the Church and to darken the sky to really pop the Church out of the background.

You will inevitably start with an image that is somewhat neutral. The plan is to darken the shadows and bring up the highlights to reveal a bit more detail in the image. Twirl down the Tone Curve panel.

The curves give you more precise control over the quarter tones. If you look at the graph it is actually broken into quarters with the Highlights at the top and Shadows at the bottom. The block under the Highlights can be regarded as light grays and the one above the Shadow is dark gray.Though you can edit the curve.if you are new to the app stick with the Sliders.  Move the Highlight slider to the right. Pay attention to the whites in the image. If they become too bright you will lose detail.

Move the Lights slider to the right. This will brighten some of the grays in the midtones.

Move the Shadow slider to the left. This will darken the Shadow areas in the image. Moving the Darks slider to the left will adjust the dark gray quarter tones.

If you make a mistake with any slider in Lightroom, just double-click the slider to reset it.

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How To Use Black and White Mix In Lightroom 5

The color sliders in the Black And White section of the Colour panel are shown.
You can use the color channels to enhance the image.

In the HSL/Color/B & W area you will see a number of color sliders. They may, at first , appear to be somewhat useless with a Grayscale image. This is not exactly the case. The image was an RGB image to start which means the color channels are sill in “play”. The image I started with had a vibrant blue sky meaning I can control the vibrancy of the pixels in the Blue channel. I moved the Blue slider to the left to darken the sky. I also moved the Green slider toward the darks which also brought out some contrast in the diamond-shaped windows. 

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How To Use Clarity In Lightroom 5

The Clarity slider increases contrast.
Use the Clarity slider judiciously.

If there is a feature of Lightroom that is both overused and misunderstood the Clarity slider would be a prime candidate. This slider mainly affects the midtones and what it does is to add contrast to the midtone without a lot of extra noise.

By moving the Clarity slider to the right, I was able to add a bit of definition to the shadows under the slats that cover the church. If I were to move it to the left, those shadows would disappear and the church would look like it was glowing. 

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How To Use The Graduated Filter In Lightroom 5

The Graduate Filter is the rectangular shape in the Tools.
The Graduated Filter is a great tool for balancing exposure.

The image still had an issue. I wanted to brighten the foreground area leading to the base of the church steps. The tool I chose for this task was the Graduated Filter which is a great tool for balancing exposure.

I selected the tool, clicked at the bottom of the image and dragged upwards to the top step of the stairs. As I dragged upwards the area below the dot or Pin lightened and the area above darkened a bit.

At this point I was satisfied and exported the image out of Lightroom 5 as a jpg image.

If you are not at all happy with your result you can always click the Reset button to revert the image to its original RGB state.