How To Choose Color Grading For Photography

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Color grading has been used in picture mail service-production for years to emphasize visual tone and atmosphere, making footage look more cinematic.

Color grading is also used in photography to change or enhance the colors of an image to help the photographer portray a sure feeling to the viewer.

In this guide, we’ll discuss how to color class both your video footage and photos using the latest editing software.

Even if you’re just beginning your editing journeying, y’all’ll larn some handy tips from the bones color correction process of artistic professionals.

What Exactly is Colour Grading?

Color Grading in Photography

Photograph credit: Jaime Reimer

Color grading in photography is a technical process that allows you to split the pixels of your prototype by brightness values (highlights, midtones and shadows) and apply a different color tint to each role.

Even if you’re working on separate parts, any adjustment you brand will change the mood of the whole image – that’s what makes color grading so powerful.

You’ve probably done this before, but y’all knew it with a different name. For example, many people refer to this process every bit colour correction. However, there is a departure betwixt color correction and color grading – I’ll talk near that later in the article.

Another proper name you’ve probably heard before is Split Toning. For case, in Lightroom, this was the but tool available for color grading.

Unfortunately, it was a bit limiting because you couldn’t work on the midtones separately. This panel but included 2 sliders – one for highlights and another for shadows – also, information technology worked only with sliders.

The new grading tool has three color wheels each i with its own gear up of sliders.

Perhaps you’ve also worked with LUTs (LookUp Table), which is a series of automated commands that color course an image. As y’all tin can encounter, you’ve probably been doing this process in your post-product workflow all along, and you lot didn’t know it.

While color grading in photography is mainly washed in postal service-production, it tin can be washed in-camera likewise. Most cameras offering Sepia or Black and White colour grading, just others provide more choices.

For example, the ones from Fuji offer vintage film looks to colour course while capturing images.

Go on in mind that using the presets of your photographic camera doesn’t mean that yous don’t have to do some colour correction afterward – but you lot can do that with the bones tools of any photo editing program.

Yous can utilise LUTs to color grade your images automatically too. There are LUTs available online for sale and for free while some programs such equally Photoshop, include some of them by default.

Colour Grading in Video

Color grading is an essential part of a three-step procedure to manage the final color in a video. First, yous have to choose the film profile. And so, do the color correction. Finally, the color grading is to add a specific mood.

For the picture show profile, you lot tin choose a flat or log contour on your video camera – for case, a C-Log on Catechism. Each profile volition have a unlike amount of data – this means that you’ll have more than or less room to use the editing tools.

Many professionals similar to employ a flat picture profile because this gives less dissimilarity, and it’s easier to work on highlights and shadows in post-production.

Regardless of the profile, you lot then need to color correct your video. Here you can adjust the white balance, hue/saturation, observe complementary colors, etc.

Then, you practice the color grading. This footstep gives character to the scene – that’s why the director and the photography director decide the color scheme – so it’south applied by the colorist.

If yous don’t desire to practice the color grading manually, you can use a LUT.

What is the Difference between Color Correction vs Color Grading?

Color correction in photography is well-nigh adjusting the white balance – usually, you’d try to accomplish the color temperature of white light.

It likewise ways that all the photos from the session need to look consistent. For this, you make a reference shot with a grey carte du jour or a color checker  – and then you color match all the images to that one.

Video color correction works similar to how information technology does in photography. Y’all need to adjust the white balance to the right color temperature. Then, you need to get a consistent look throughout all the footage coming from the different cameras.

Instead, color grading – both in photography and on video image is a coloring procedure that gives a particular mood to the scene. Information technology’due south not about color correcting – it’south most a creative vision.

How to Color Grade Video in 4 Simple Steps

Typically, colour grading is heavily influenced past decisions made on set past the director and managing director of photography (DOP).

As long as footage has been captured in RAW or LOG format, a color grader can apply non-destructive edits to help the director reach his/her final vision.

Yous’ll detect basic color grading tools in all the video editing software available in 2022.

Any color grading software you choose, here are the steps to take:

1. Normalize your video footage

Hither you take advantage of all the information recorded in your video. You use the dynamic range to improve the recording’s exposure, contrast, and saturation.

A proficient workflow to practise a principal color correction is to adjust the exposure, the white balance and saturation of the entire image. You can see this in action in the above video.

Yous tin can start by adjusting the blackness and whites of the scene, then go on to the shadows and highlights. Once the exposure is right, move on to the white rest – y’all can do this with the color temperature and the tint sliders, but y’all tin can use the automated tool included in nigh programs.

Now, piece of work on the saturation. And then, repeat the process on each shot.

two. Color right your video

At present that your digital video has a consistent wait and yous got the lights and colors looking natural, yous can proceed to adjust specific areas with a secondary color correction.

This secondary correction targets specific areas or objects from the scene and does a selective color correction. For example, if you demand to fine-tune the skin tones.

If y’all watch the video above, you can see how a yellow post in 1 shoot looks greenish – then he targets simply that colour and corrects information technology without affecting the rest of the scene. He also uses a mask to lighten a specific area.

3. Move on to digital color grading

At present that things are technically OK, it’s fourth dimension for the artistic vision to take identify. You can practice the color grading process in the same plan yous were using for the colour correction – for case, the author of the video does the entire process in Premiere Pro CC. Other people adopt to exercise this part with specialised software such equally DaVinci Resolve.

Sometimes the creative team provides color palettes to the picture colorists – if this is the case, you lot tin stick to that. If not, you can create a colour scheme of your own. Y’all should become some cognition of color theory for better results.

In the video, y’all can come across the author uses the teal/orange contrast because this contrast highlights the skin tones and separates them from the background.

Y’all can as well apply a creative LUT to make the process automatic. You lot tin can create your LUTs or download them – yous can notice many of them online, some for free and some for sale.

4. Fine-tune your work

This is especially of import if you used an automatic method (LUTs), but also if y’all made the color management manually.

Basically, yous need to check that the entire video is color corrected and colour graded properly. If non, make the necessary adjustments.

How to Color Grade Photography in X Easy Steps

In 2022, Adobe introduced a new Color Grading feature to Lightroom. Y’all can notwithstanding perform more avant-garde color grading in Adobe Photoshop, but Lightroom should be skillful plenty for most photographers.

Here’s how to exercise it:

1. Import your image(southward)

As you probably know, to edit your images in Lightroom, you need to import them first. You can do this in the Library module. This is because Lightroom works on a copy of your file so that your original stays safely untouched.

ii. Open up the Color Grading panel

Now, switch to the Develop module – on the right, you’ll find the panels with all the editing features. Look for the console named Color Grading and open it.

If y’all can’t find it – make certain yous accept updated your Lightroom. The colour grading tool was released in October 2022, and it replaced the Carve up Tone feature.

ii. Choose the layout of the panel

In this console, yous’ll find all the tools for color grading. The first ones are five circular icons – these change the layout of the rest of the tools.

Past default, you’ll be on the first i – three circles that represent the three colour wheels underneath. The top wheel is to adjust the midtones, the one on the bottom left is for the shadows, and the third one on the bottom right is for the highlights. Nether each one, y’all’ll encounter the Luminance slider.

The following three icons display the aforementioned colour wheels just separately. These private views allow y’all to piece of work more accurately because each color wheel is bigger.

The fifth icon is the Global adjustment which affects the unabridged prototype.

3. Make the color adjustments using the color wheels

Now that you’ve chosen the layout, click and drag on the color wheel to do the color grading. Each color is chosen a hue. As you get away from the centre of the bicycle, the saturation of the hue increases.

If y’all’re using whatsoever of the unmarried color wheels (any of the 3 middle icons), you can open the Hue – Saturation sliders and make the color aligning there. You won’t encounter them immediately, but you can make them visible past clicking on the arrow found on the lesser correct of the color wheel.

Directly underneath, you’ll find the luminance slider, which is the third colour cistron, and it refers to the brightness of the hue.

You can click on the eye icon to toggle between the before and after versions of the epitome.

If you want to acquire more about colour wheels and choosing the correct color for your designs or photography in full general, check out our commodity on Adobe Color.

4. Conform the blending

When you’re done choosing the color tones using the color wheels, you lot can motion on to the final ii sliders. The first one is Blending, and it manages the overlap between the highlights and shadows.

This helps you to reach polish transitions between the different tonal ranges. You can see in the video an example of how this adjustment affects the image.

five. Fine-tune the balance

The final slider is called Residuum. As the proper noun says, it adjusts how the consequence is balanced between highlights and shadows. In other words, it changes which tones are considered highlights and which ones are shadows. Again, you can see how this works in the video to have a better idea – of form, you can just play with it on your pictures and come across the results.

FAQs About Color Grading

Is color grading necessary?

You can practice without color grading if you’re just shooting a video for your friends or family to remember a special moment. Withal, if you lot want to practise professional films – commercial or creative – y’all definitely demand to colour course.

What is the best colour grading software?

DaVinci Resolve is one of the best for video color grading – also Adobe Premiere Pro and Film Converter. For still images, the best are Adobe Photoshop, Luminar AI or GIMP for a free culling.

Why is called color grading?

Color grading is the proper noun of a technique used in labs when you lot process flick. It’s used to modify colors with chemicals while passing from a negative to a positive image. The proper noun was inherited to the digital technique of adjusting colors using software with the procedure explained in the article.

Is color grading done before editing?

In professional filmmaking, the process starts even earlier shooting with a conscious decision that determines the file format (or the type of film), a specific workflow, etc. However, color grading in post-production is done after the bones edits, and information technology tin be done only by adding a artistic LUT.

How long does information technology take to color grade a feature picture?

The average time to color course a motion-picture show is around two weeks (or 80-100 hours). However, there are many variables to make an accurate fourth dimension estimate. Recall, you need to include the return fourth dimension when estimating or quoting a project.

Last Words

Color grading is a fascinating and complex subject – if you want to go a professional colorist, there’s a lot of material and technical terms to learn.

However, even if you lot’re not going to specialize in this area, it’s still useful to have a full general idea if you’re a photographer or a videographer.

Hopefully, this commodity was a good introduction to the topic so that yous can starting time to color class your piece of work and see how large a difference information technology makes.

Let u.s.a. know if you have whatsoever doubts, and share your colour grading tips in the comments.


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