Making magic with monochrome tones

Urban landscape photographer and Instagrammer Ron takes you behind the scenes of his atmospheric shots of London.

Making magic with monochrome tones

How Ron got this shot

This image is already very striking. But with a few adjustments in the Lightroom Mobile App, Ron gives it even more impact.

Canary Wharf image

1. Basic adjustments

In the edit panel, Ron adjusts the exposure to brighten the image and increases the contrast slightly to add depth. He also reduces the highlights to reveal more detail in the centre of the image, increases the shadows, brings the whites down and increases the blacks.

Canary Wharf image

2. Sharpen to bring out more detail

To bring out the details in the bridge, Ron sharpens his image. In the detail panel, he increases the sharpening slider to 60 and increases the radius slider to 1.5. Ron increases the detail slider to 40 and moves the masking slider up to 30.

About sharpening

Almost every digital image needs at least a little bit of sharpening. The sharpening tool gives you four different sliders to help you sharpen your image.


This is how much sharpening you want to add: the higher the number, the more sharpening you’ll see. Be careful with this slider as taking it too high can add extra noise into your image.


This is how much of the area around the edges will be sharpened. Setting at 1.0, means one pixel around the edges will be sharpened. Make it too high and your edges will get too thick. 


This slider controls how much the ‘details’ of your image get sharpened. A low value would only sharpen thick edges while a high value sharpens even the tiniest edges. Be careful because you can also add noise by going too high.


This useful slider masks out areas that shouldn’t be sharpened.


Canary Wharf image

3. Get rid of grain with the Noise Reduction tool

Because the image was taken in relatively low light there’s a bit of grain or noise in the darker parts of the image, to remove this, and any noise introduced by the sharpening, Ron increases the Noise Reduction slider to 30.

About Noise Reduction

Digital cameras can sometimes introduce ‘noise’ or ‘grain’ into an image, especially in low light. Moving the Noise Reduction slider to the right can help you reduce this. Too much noise reduction can make your image appear ‘soft’ so you need to balance Noise Reduction with Sharpening.


Canary Wharf image

4. Playing with hues in the colour mixer

The yellow is the most prominent colour in this image. Ron uses the colour mixer to alter it: he selects the yellow circle and then moves the hue slider to bring the yellow tones towards magenta, adding a reddish glow.

About the colour mixer

Do you ever find that the colours in your shot don’t look the way you remember them? You can use the colour mixer to control the different colours in your image individually. Select a colour and then use the sliders to change its hue, saturation (intensity) and luminance (how vibrant the colour is).


Canary Wharf image

5. Use split toning to colour the highlights and shadows

In the split toning panel, Ron adds blue into the highlights and shadows to increase the image’s futuristic look.

About split toning

Split toning lets you add different colours into the highlights and shadows in your image, to subtly change the feel of your image. Select ‘Shadows’ and move the slider in the colour panel left and right to explore the effect of different colours and then up and down to adjust the saturation. Do the same for ‘Highlights’ to find a look you’re happy with. Finally, use the slider at the bottom to play with the balance between the highlights and shadows.

Ron Timehin

Ron Timehin

Instagrammer and urban landscape photographer Ron Timehin started sharing his images back in 2012. Six years and 50,000 followers later, he’s been able to swap his day job for his passion and he’s landed commissions from the likes of Apple, Adidas, Nike, Red Bull and Google.

Ron’s taught himself everything he knows by simply going out and shooting. Now, with the help of Lightroom CC, he wants to help you do the same. Because – as he always says – it’s easier to succeed when you’re doing something you love.

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