The Difference of Split Toning


Some photographers have never even heard about split toning. I admit myself, I only came across this color grading technique a couple years back when I was searching for an ultimate color grading technique that would push the limits of my work that much further. 

Since this isn't necessarily a website dedicated to providing in depth tutorials, there are several tutorials you can find online. Here's a really useful piece about split toning that really captured my attention

It's not rocket science anyone can do it. The theory is pretty simple as it creates a tone difference between the shadows and highlights in your images. Here are a couple example images below:

Split toning can really change the mood of your images. Different color combinations create different moods. What I have found is that it generally works best with pictures where a person or a subject is in the frame. You could obviously use it in your landscape post processing, but if you are trying to recreate a color accurate image, this may not be the best technique to use with landscapes. Split toning can really help your images pop. 

What do I need?

You'll need photoshop or lightroom and a good sense of color combinations. Since there are so many combinations you can utilize and stack, the possibilities are endless. The images below have been exaggerated slightly to show you the effects:

Trolls live Under Bridges
(Shadows: Green)
(Highlights: Purple) 

The Lone Tree
(Highlights: Magenta) 

Done tastefully, this technique can really bring your image processing to a whole new level. Ultimately, the secret to split toning is finding the right color combination. In this toolkit I've provided you with some color combinations to help start you off on the right foot. I tend to use a lot of triad color combinations in my images:

You can also use complimentary color combinations as posted below: 

Try out some of these color combinations:

Orange and Red - Fall colors (Red for the shadows and orange for the highlights). 
Purple and Tan - Purple for the shadows. 
Blue and Green - Green for the shadows. 
Teal and Tan or Orange - Teal for the highlights and Orange for the shadows. 

Adobe also has a really cool color wheel tool which helps you generate color combinations and see other users' color combinations. 

Split toning has been around since the early days photography and film making. Many of these color combinations have been made popular in the days of analogue photography and are still loved today. Many of these colors can also be implemented in black and white photography to give pictures a more sepia look or a cool blue tone. 

Whether you are taking a picture of a coffee, food, people or places, I highly recommend experimenting with split toning to see how it can recreate that mood you felt when you took the picture. 

Here is another (more advanced) method for created dual tone images.  If you're interested in learning more color processing, I recommend these videos for reference. 

Another photographer that has influenced much of my work is Jimmy Mcintyre. This was one of the videos that helped me a lot during my first days of landscape photography:

If you have found this post helpful or interesting, feel free to leave me a comment down below or check out some of my shooting locations here. As always be safe and best wishes on your post processing adventure. 

Yours truly,