Avoiding Halos with Black and White Conversion


Today’s Question: I converted a photo to black and white in Lightroom Classic, then darkened the sky. This resulted in halos along the edges of tree branches. I was able to correct this in Photoshop using the Clone Stamp tool set to darken. Is there a way to prevent this from happening or an easier way to correct this?

Tim’s Quick Answer: These types of halos can result from a targeted adjustment that requires more feathering, or too strong an adjustment for the black and white mix.

More Detail: With the masking features in Lightroom Classic, this type of issue can be challenging to resolve. When you use an automatic mask for the sky, for example, you can’t adjust the blending along the edge of the sky and the rest of the image. If you use the Auto Mask feature for the Brush tool, you similarly can’t adjust the feathering of the edge after the fact to modify the transition. For this type of scenario Photoshop provides better solutions than Lightroom Classic.

If you’re converting to black and white and then adjusting the mix, so that you can for example darken the blues for the sky and brighten the greens for the landscape, a strong adjustment can result in obvious halos. The easiest solution in this situation is to use reduced settings that don’t create as much contrast between neighboring areas of different underlying colors.

If you’re not able to improve the halo issue using one of the above methods, you’ll generally have significant work involved in improving the image.

One option would be to refine the mask for the targeted adjustment manually, so that you adjust the size and position of the blending in the area where the halo appears, in order to reduce the contrast in that area. Another option is to use image cleanup techniques to remove the halos. This is best done with the Clone Stamp tool in Photoshop or the Clone option for the Healing tool in Lightroom Classic. However, you would need to use a rather small brush and paint very carefully along the edge, so as to not alter the texture along the edge of the areas of transition, such as the tree branches in this example.