The following isn’t my idea, but something I picked up from watching a video by Matt Kloskowski over at Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Killer Tips. The only difference is that he was working in Photoshop, and I thought it must be transferable to Lightroom; so it is.
The colour picker tool in Lightroom’s Develop module is used mostly with Split-toning, although it’s also available with the Gradient tool and the Brush tool. As can be seen in the image below, one can either use the sliders to set the hue and saturation levels for the Highlights and Shadows, or, by clicking on the colour box, one can bring out the colour picker tool.
Moving the mouse around inside the box and then clicking will set the hue and saturation values. However, by clicking/ holding the left mouse button and dragging the mouse, one can take the colour picker tool out of the box and onto the image itself, whereby one can select a colour value from the image itself. Although garish, this image shows the Shadows set to the red of the bow on one of the wreaths:
That much I knew. But let’s say you’re dealing with a black and white image and have no colours to sample, or let’s say you’re browsing a website and see the perfect colour in an image there. In the same way, you can click and drag the mouse outside of the Lightroom window completely and sample a colour from anywhere on the screen. In the image below, the left side shows a portion of an image from our Flickr site of a section of beach with some driftwood and some bull kelp. On the right is the (more or less) final image of Craigdarroch Castle, converted to black and white with a sepia overtone. I sampled the brown colour for the Shadows from the darker part of the driftwood, and the yellow for the Highlights from a strand of bull kelp.
As I say, it’s just a quick tip, but it might be of use to you someday. Now go out and make some photographs!
Update: November 2015 – for more on working with colour in Lightroom, try this post: Colour Manipulation in Lightroom