In my second part about how to achieve gold tones in Lightroom, I dive into the color adjustment and split toning panels. If you haven’t checked out part one yet, click here. Let’s jump in!

Color adjustment panel

After making adjustments to the temperature adjustment panel, this is a great panel to adjust the color on the skin tones and to revive colors in the objects in the background while maintaining an overall golden tone.

This panel is also great for color grading. I am a big fan of color theory and the power color can have on the emotion and mood of a photograph. That’s why I also love to use Lightroom presets. The presets allow for quick editing.

For the sake of this post, I will only dive into the basics of color theory.

I spend most of my time in the color adjustment panel since it is my favorite panel. With so many options and adjustments you could make within the color adjustments panel, it can be easy to go overboard or just get frustrated because you do not know where to start.

That’s why I always go into the color adjustment panel with a strategy.

This ensures I don’t run into the classic scenario of adjusting a color, moving it back, then adjusting it again because I wasn’t sure if I liked the original or newer adjustment (I’ve done this too many times).

To better categorize and tackle the color adjustment panel, I categorize the color adjustments into two parts — warmer colors and cooler colors. This allows me to look at the colors as two families opposed to eight individual colors.

The warmer colors consist of the reds, oranges, yellows and greens. The cooler colors consist of the aquas, blues, purples and magentas.

Since we want to add golden tones to our image in Lightroom, our main focus will be on the warmer colors listed above. We will still be adjusting the cooler colors, but it will be to complement the bigger adjustments on our warmer colors.

Each color can be broken down into hue, saturation and luminance.


Adjustments to the hue deal with the actual color tones in an image, allowing you to shift color tones to a different color range. This is the best panel to make your adjustments in terms of color grading.

Looking at the basics of color theory, I want to edit my image to have a complementary color grade of blues and oranges:

Check out the Adobe Color Wheel at

Since I want to add this color grade, I will adjust all the hues in my warmer colors to have a more orange effect. Then, I will adjust all the hues in my cooler colors to have a more blue effect.

There aren’t many blues in my image to begin with, so the bigger color grading will happen when we discuss split toning.


Adjustments to the saturation of a color determine how “colorful” you want the color to be. As a personal taste, I always tend to bump my saturation down a bit.


You can play around with this slider until you’re happy with the adjustments. Be careful not to go too overboard with the saturation as this could create a cartoonish image to your look that looks unnatural (unless that is the look you’re going for).


Adjustments to the luminance deal with the brightness of a certain color within the image. This is a great slider to adjust the skin tones on the subject in your image.

Bumping up the luminance on the reds, oranges and yellows will often brighten your subject’s skin tone since these colors are most commonly associated with the color of the skin tone.

I increased the luminance on the reds for my example.

Split toning

The split toning adjustments panel is great for adding final touches within the golden tones in your image. This allows you to add color to your highlights and shadows.

In this panel, I leverage the rectangle box they provide. This allows me to select which color I specifically want to add.

Since we are adding warm tones to our image, I will be adding a orange-ish color to the highlights.

Personally, I always add a blue-ish color to the shadows as well, just to add that complementary color (tying back into the color grading mentioned earlier).

I add subtle adjustments to the image to ensure I don’t mess up the other adjustments I made prior.

Split toning is a great tool to continue adding those golden tones to our image and more character to our photograph.

Final thoughts

This is the same exact process I go through when I add golden tones to my image, so I hope you learned how to add golden tones effectively to your image. If you want to see me walk through my process, stay tuned next week for a video walk-through.

If you learned something new or have any questions, be sure to leave a comment or message me on Instagram @nate.joaquin. Until next time!