While most photographers agree that exposure correction and luminosity adjustments are the first steps to take during photo editing workflow, color grading is perceived by many as “mysterious land”. It is a high time to demistify color adjustments!
Quite frequently I am getting requests from my students to provide feedback on their work. Many of them reached the point where they became good at adjusting the image to their liking in terms of light distribution, contrast and texture. They feel “stuck”, as there is nothing left to tweak regarding luminosity corrections, the results they are getting are correct, but the artwork is still missing the desired “edge”.
My feedback on their work differs - as the images I’m receiving from my students are unique - however it seems that all of them have one thing in common: lack of control over color. Dealing with colors requires basic knowledge of Color Theory. It involves creativity, artistic vision and personal taste. I agree, to enter the land of color can be overwhelming, especially when you have little or no experience with color adjustments in Photoshop.
If you are curious about color grading and would like to learn the difference between color grading and color correction - take a look at the following examples and check out the short video on "Color Grading vs Color Correction".
The first image - original RAW file, had quite strong blue color cast, which was easy to correct with White Balance Tool in RAW editor. The second image is the result - cool tone is gone, grey areas are neutral.
This sort of adjustments are "technical", we are aiming towards correcting the white balance and producing natural looking starting point for further processing.
The images below show creative process of experimenting with image properties, such as luminosity, contrast and color. You can work towards enhancing the initial mood present in the scene or go into entirely different direction and try combining colors that were not initially present in the RAW capture.
The Difference Between Color Grading vs Color Correction
The video is part of "Easy Color Grading from a Photo Reference in Photoshop" video course.
In the complete video course you can learn:
Replicate the color grading from a selected image reference and apply it to a new photo
Analyse in depth properties of the reference image
Break down the image in terms of color grading and to see particular components and their numeric values
Work with specific Photoshop tools to quickly break down the “color code” of the reference image
Avoid typical pitfalls when working on color grading from a reference