Use Luminosity Blending to Combine Color and Black & White

a regal looking lion reclines on a small hill.

Photoshop’s luminosity blend mode adds some drama to this lion shot.

While on a long drive yesterday I was listening to some old podcasts of Nik Radio episodes. They were interviewing Australian fine art photographer Tony Hewitt. Tony mentioned a image editing technique that I thought sounded interesting. He suggested using the luminosity blend mode in Photoshop to use a black and white version of an image to add drama and character to the color version using the luminosity blend mode. So I used the majestic lion image from my last post to experiment. The results blew me away.

Here is the technique.

  1. Edit your color image as normal. Lots of color and texture are nice, but no need for excessive clarity or contrast.
  2. Send a copy of the image to Nik Silver Efex Pro and choose a fairly contrasty black and white conversion. I used Noir 3.
  3. Bring both images into Photoshop. Use the move tool to drag one image on to the other. Hold down shift so that the images will be perfectly aligned.
  4. Make sure that the black and white version is on the top layer.
  5. Change the black and white layer blend mode to Luminosity. This allows the brightness of the black and white layer to add drama to the color version, without affecting the color at all.

About Mike

An Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop who loves to see what can be drawn out of a RAW file.
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