Lightroom Presets – Black and White Tonal Contrast Effect

A while back I released some presets that simulated one of my favorite effects in Photoshop plug-ins – the Tonal Contrast effect. onOne Software’s Perfect Effects has it, and Nik has it as well. But I know that lots of people still don’t use 3rd party plug-ins, so I set out to recreate the effect in Lightroom. Well, as with many of the presets, I find that sometimes a black and white version always works out well too. So that’s what I have for you today. Black and White Tonal Contrast presets. There’s actually 3 of them (Light, Medium, Strong) for various levels of the effect.

Also, don’t forget that there’s definitely something in the “special sauce” that the plug-in companies use. So if you have the plug-ins (or are thinking of getting one), I’d still use them. Given the choice, I’d use the Perfect Effects Tonal Contrast effect before I’d ever use the one that I have here. But for those that don’t, this is a great alternative to help get that gritty/edgy/contrasty look right in Lightroom.

NOTE: I’m going to put my usual HDR disclaimer here too, because I find that tonal contrast effects have a similar HDR-ish feel to them. So, here goes: If HDR (or tonal contrast) is the kind of thing that incites anger and criticism from you, then these presets aren’t for you. Don’t download, don’t try them out and don’t leave a negative comment on how HDR (or tonal contrast) is bastardizing photography and how everyone that uses it is a horrible person 😉

Here’s a few samples. You really have to try the presets out though, since they don’t show up as well when the images are small.

Hope you enjoy. Have a good one!


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  1. Hey, thank you for these presets! They are not right for every photo, but when they are… they rock!

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  2. Matt – Can these be used with LR5? I love these presets and used them with LR4. Now I have LR5. Please advise.

    Thanks a lot for all your invaluable advice and help with LR.


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  3. These are great – please release some for LR5! Or can I use these with LR5 already?

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  4. Hey, amazing page. Great tips and presets. I’m starting with lightroom and just found your page. Thanks for the awesome work.

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    • Dear rbfgueira,
      We are not choosing any color system on LR and it is maintaining internally. It is almost equal to profoto Rgb. I don’t know what is your default color system on your PS. Make your color system profoto RGB and convert it to B&W. I am sure it is not equal to the result LR gives.(I already said, both are having different color systems and Lr is almost profoto RGB. Not 100%, So, it cannot be accurate) Call up on the b&W result of PS to LR. just tweak it the way your eyes sees. and then make the preset.
      Hope it will help you.

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  5. Hi Matt,

    Do you have any clean and perfect B&W convertion – LR4 preset (zero effects) ?

    Sample: Suppose you have one RGB image (imagine one circle Red; one Green; one Blue crossed) and want to convert to B&W. The idea is to have the correct B&W conversion of that RGB image…


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  6. Quick question Matt.. I want to pick up the OnOne Perfect Photo Suite 7. I’m addicted to LR and use it as my main editor for my images but I have Photoshop Elements 10. Do you recommend the LR version, Photoshop version, or stand alone version of the OnOne suite and why?

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    • Personally Randy, I’d buy the Photoshop version. Most of my photos run through Photoshop for quick retouching so it’s easier for me to apply the plug-ins there, rather than in Lightroom. Hope that helps.

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