Just about anyone that you ask will agree that there’s a sophisticated beauty to black and white photography. However, there are certain scenarios where vibrant color really brings a photograph to life. Converting a color photograph to black and white is attainable in a single click. Bringing color to a black and white, on the other hand, is no easy feat.

For over a century, artists have specialized in hand coloring black and white images. In this tutorial, Nathaniel Dodson explains how to practice the process digitally with the help of Adobe Lightroom:

Dodson goes into the fine details on everything that goes into a complex photo coloration. The following are a few highlights for beginners to take into consideration:

Create a Virtual Copy

Before beginning the process, the first thing you’ll want to do is create a virtual copy of your original image. While the changes you make to a file are nondestructive, it’s helpful to have the original file as a reference point as well as fallback should you find that you’re not satisfied with your edit. Making a copy is pretty simple; just select your image, right-click, and select “Create Virtual Copy”.

Know when to use Auto Mask

To bring in your colors, use Lightroom’s adjustment brush with the customized color swatch applied. Using the sliders on Lightroom’s right hand panel, it’s possible to adjust the contrast, clarity, and exposure of each brush stroke using a series of corresponding sliders. Also included in the adjustment brush menu is an “Auto Mask” option. For the most part, you’ll want to make sure that Auto Mask is off; when working with black and white photographs, the tool often proves to be limited and, at times, detrimental.

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