I have an image and I want to darken the background and keep the subject in colour. How do I do that?

Test image :


  • Have you tried the adjustment brush? – user2719 Apr 13 '13 at 5:14

This is one of those things that is really going to be pushing the envelope of what Lightroom is capable of. The adjustment brush is going to be your best bet at achieving it in Lightroom alone, but really, this kind of an effect is generally best done using masks to govern desaturation and exposure adjustments. That's going to require a more powerful application like Photoshop to do the best possible job.

Update: One other thought, if the color of the background is different enough, you can use the color based desaturation to try to remove just the background color, but it's likely to take out some other spots if you do that severe of a desaturate. It's typically more useful for things like correcting slight oversaturation in particular colors, but it may work in some cases. You can find it under the HSL/Color/B&W controls in Develop. I generally use the HSL - Saturation option and adjust with the closest color available. Again though, this is only going to work on very particular images with a high degree of contrast from the background color.

  • yeah true ... :) – Rene Duchamp Apr 13 '13 at 14:52
  • @abhilashsukumari - added an additional suggestion that might help in some limited cases. – AJ Henderson Apr 13 '13 at 15:01
  • 1
    yeah was able to do with LR 4 : 500px.com/photo/31028761 – Rene Duchamp Apr 17 '13 at 18:26
  • @abhilashsukumari - cool, yeah, that came out pretty well. It could definitely be a bit cleaner with a mask, but for doing selective desaturation, that worked out pretty well. – AJ Henderson Apr 17 '13 at 18:43

if you want a less costly solution, i would suggest using the selective colorization option of Silver EFEX Pro from Nik Collection by Google.. :)

it works like a charm.. :D

check out this video for a preview! :)


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