Four images of a street scene side by side. The first is unretiuched, the second shows more vibrant colors and tighter cropping, the third shows unretouched black and white with harsh whites, the fourth shows black and white using the remixer for more even tones and less harshness

I accidentally learned how to use Lightroom’s black and white mixer over the weekend. I’ve spent a while at the mercy of monochrome presets and film simulations, many of which offer red/yellow/green/blue/orange filter variants, but I’d still get frustrated with their limitations and didn’t understand them very well. There’s a particular look that I sometimes stumble into when conditions are right, and I like it when I see it, but I’d never really stopped to figure out what was going on.

I collapsed the B&W mixer settings a long time ago and never opened them back up, but in the process of going through some old photos I kept getting frustrated with what I thought I saw and what I was getting, so opened the panel back up, grabbed a slider, and moved it around to see what happened (which is basically “make a selected color’s corresponding monochrome shade get brighter or darker”). It’s funny that it took me this long, because I’ve been using the corresponding color mixer for years to get little pops of color to show up better, or to tone things down when the camera and I didn’t agree on a tone.

Anyhow, this makes pictures that’d be sort of listless as black and whites a lot more vibrant and true when used in combination with the other tone settings (shadow, black, highlight, white). It’s nice to have a little more control in the digital darkroom.