9 Replies Latest reply on May 30, 2017 10:50 AM by dj_paige

    Desaturate shadow tones only


      Without having to selectively adjust the shadows of an image, is there a way to target shadows in the overall image and desaturate the colors only in the shadows? I've been searching a while for a way to do this in Lightroom and the only thing I've figured out is that by pumping up vibrance (since it targets the midtone colors) and lowering the saturation (lowering overall colors), it gets me pretty close to what I'm looking for but not quite enough.

      I am working with Canon .raw files from a 5D mkIII in case that comes up. Any ideas/help/direction would really be helpful, thanks!

        • 1. Re: Desaturate shadow tones only
          dj_paige Level 10

          I don't think this is a feature of Lightroom.

          • 2. Re: Desaturate shadow tones only
            Mel Davis. Level 3

            Since true shadows tend to be somewhat desaturated of color anyway, the effect of doing this would be hard to see, which may be one reason there may be no clear path to doing it in LR.


            I see and you probably saw as well a way to increase shadow color saturation in Develop module's Split Toning (change Highlights to Shadows and add Saturation--but the Saturation default there is 0 and won't slide negative). Note also this feature interprets shadows at medium gray, not dark gray.


            Are you getting color noise (grain with odd colors) in the shadows that you want to desaturate? Then you could try Develop > Detail > Noise Reduction, click the small crosshair icon in Detail and use it to sample a shadow in your image, then slide Color towards 0. The effect is subtle though; you may be looking for more impact. Less desirably maybe Develop > HSL / Color / B&W > click on the word Color there, select the Color that comes closest to the one (if there is only one) you want to desaturate and move Saturation there to the left could do what you want, but of course this will reduce that color throughout your image, not just in the shadows.


            Per Berntsen's idea sounds promising and worth a try too.

            • 3. Re: Desaturate shadow tones only
              Per Berntsen Adobe Community Professional

              You could use the adjustment brush with saturation set to a negative value.

              • 4. Re: Desaturate shadow tones only
                dj_paige Level 10

                But he said he didn't want to brush.

                • 5. Re: Desaturate shadow tones only
                  Per Berntsen Adobe Community Professional

                  Yes I see that now, but I'm not sure if there's any other way to do it.

                  Maybe something could be done with the Color panel, provided the unwanted color is only found in the shadows and nowhere else in the image.

                  • 6. Re: Desaturate shadow tones only
                    WobertC Adobe Community Professional

                    Not Lightroom- I know, I know, I know- this is a Lightroom forum!!  but Photoshop can do this exactly as you want. If you have Photoshop!


                    1. Copy background layer [Ctrl+J]

                    2. Apply "threshold"  to copied layer [Image>Adjustments>Threshold]

                    3. Adjust threshold to select shadow areas. Invert this layer [Ctrl+I ]

                    4. Copy the threshold layer- [Ctrl+A ] [Ctrl+C ]

                    5. Select background image layer and Add a Saturation adjustment layer.

                    6. Select the Mask on the adjustment layer [ALT + LClick ]

                    7. Paste the threshold layer into the mask on the Adjustment layer [Ctrl+V ]

                    8. Click Saturation layer Icon and Adjust Saturation on the adjustment layer.

                    9. Delete the 'Threshold' layer. (it was only needed to create the mask)

                    10. Save image and back to Lightroom.


                    • 7. Re: Desaturate shadow tones only
                      SeanMcCormack Adobe Community Professional

                      Can you post a link to a shot that has the effect you want to achieve?

                      • 8. Re: Desaturate shadow tones only

                        I have the same question. This is 2 clicks in many film color grading software like DaVinci Resolve. And it is a common technique that is needed to allow more dramatic adjustments of color while preventing color adjustments from making shadows feel cartoonish. We need this in LR and Premiere's lumetri color.

                        • 9. Re: Desaturate shadow tones only
                          dj_paige Level 10

                          jeffr78177539  wrote


                          I have the same question.

                          What question? How to de-saturate shadows in LR? This has already been answered, and workarounds discussed.