Inverting Negative Images


Today’s Question: Is there a way to create a preset in Lightroom Classic for changing a B&W negative into a positive image? I am scanning my negative film and thought there would be an easier method than using the sliders in the tone curve on each negative to turn it into a positive image.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can create a preset that will streamline the process of converting a scanned negative to a positive image.

More Detail: It is worth noting that in most cases you can have the images inverted at the time of scanning. Scanning software will typically include an option to invert as part of the scanning process, and that often provides a more accurate positive image because it can take into account the fact that the original is a negative, not just an inverted source image.

The easiest way to invert a negative image in Lightroom Classic (or Camera Raw or Lightroom) is to use the Tone Curve using the point curve mode (not parametric mode). Drag the black endpoint at the bottom-left of the Tone Curve line to the top-left, and drag the white endpoint at the top-right of the Tone Curve line to the bottom-right.

You can also create a preset to make this even easier to apply to multiple images. Start by applying the desired adjustments to a sample image. You may want to include other adjustments, such as Clarity and Texture, for example.

When you’re ready to save a preset based on adjustments applied to a sample image, click the plus (+) icon to the right of the Presets heading on the left panel in the Develop module and choose Create Preset from the popup. In the New Develop Preset dialog enter a meaningful name for the preset in the Preset Name field, and choose which group you want to include the preset it from the Group popup.

Next, click the “Check None” button at the bottom-left of the dialog, then turn on the checkboxes for the adjustments you want to include in the preset, such as Point Curve, Clarity, and Texture. Click the Create button to save the preset, which you can then apply to multiple images at the time of import, to multiple selected photos in the Quick Develop section of the right panel in the Library module, or by selecting a preset for an image in the Develop module.