Creative Editing: LAB Color Inversion

Simple steps for all skill levels!

If you are looking to add a creative flair to an image shot with a white background, try this quick technique to invert the image creating a black background.   This creative technique works well for images shot with a lightbox, light-pad, or white background to an image on a black background.  We are going to use the color space LAB in Photoshop to make this conversion. Before we get started, you do not need to understand color spaces fully. Just know that LAB color space has three channels - Lightness, Channel A, and Channel B. We will be using the Lightness channel to make these adjustments. 

The process works to invert the white values in the image to black. So it is helpful that the subject in the image does not have a lot of white. The whites will turn out grey or black. I find images with brighter colors work nicely to do this conversion. After you convert the image, you will then want to make color adjustments. You can use Adobe Camera Raw from Photoshop or take the photo into Lightroom.  


  • Bring your image into Photoshop
  • Covert to LAB color space: Image>Mode>LAB Color
  • Swap your view from the Layers panel  to Channels 
  • Select just the Lightness panel: Click on the word lightness
  • Go back to the menu: Image>Adjustments>Invert ( this will cover the image)
  • Return to the channels panel: Click on Channel A, and Channel B. Make sure that all three channels are selected.
  • Convert the image back to RBG: Image>Mode>RGB 
  • Now you can move ahead with your edits


Select Just Lightness

Select All once inverted to return to RBG

This video will walk you through a full inversion of an image and the color edits. For more on how to edit with LAB color read this post. 

For more ideas on how to use LAB color to enhance your images read this post

Using Format