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How to Edit Dramatic B&W Photos on Mobile with Curves and HSL Sliders


Here’s a 15-minute video by photographer Sean Tucker in which he runs through an effective technique for processing black and white images, with a focus on mobile. Tucker demonstrates using curves and HSL sliders to achieve a dramatic look for his images that end up on his Instagram.

Tucker uses the Darkroom app on his iPhone to process the images, which are JPGs copied from his Fuji X100F. Of course, you could use RAWs and follow the same process in Lightroom or Photoshop to achieve a similar look. For Android users, Tucker shows how to achieve similar results in Snapseed.

To increase the contrast in his images, Tucker uses a basic ’S’ curve. Whites can be dropped and blacks can be raised to achieve the faded/vintage style that is all the rage on Instagram at the moment. The Darkroom app makes curves very easy to work with:

In images with blue sky, Tucker demonstrates how you can reduce the luminance in the blues and other cool tones to really add drama to the sky. Boosting the warmer tones adds extra contrast to the image.

Here’s a sampling of some of Tucker’s Instagram photos:

Mobile editing has definitely come a long way in the past few years, bringing apps like Darkroom and Snapseed (or Lightroom Mobile) increasingly closer to feature parity with their desktop counterparts. When you’re editing photos to be posted on Instagram like Tucker is here, often you may find that they are more than enough for the job.