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Color in post

From: The Elements of Effective Photographs

Video: Color in post

In the last couple of videos we've learned about the color of light and how to correct your white balance in camera. Now we've put our captures into our editing software and we are ready to make the final adjustments. I'll be demonstrating in Adobe's Lightroom, but the principles translate for other software too. So the first thing I do is go into the Develop mode. It gives you a lot more ability to adjust the photograph. The photograph is the one that we are using to chart our color temperature for the day.

Color in post

In the last couple of videos we've learned about the color of light and how to correct your white balance in camera. Now we've put our captures into our editing software and we are ready to make the final adjustments. I'll be demonstrating in Adobe's Lightroom, but the principles translate for other software too. So the first thing I do is go into the Develop mode. It gives you a lot more ability to adjust the photograph. The photograph is the one that we are using to chart our color temperature for the day.

I'm having the model hold a gray card. Now what's going to happen is I will take the Eyedropper and come over here and get a white balance that is correct. So now that the white balance is correct, I would be able to in just a couple of clicks get a correct white balance for all of these photographs, and there it is! All of these photographs have the correct white balance on them at this time. Now, I would go in and individually work on them a little bit, depending on what the situation is like, to really finesse them, or I could do a global adjustment by adjusting the blacks and the contrast and maybe the exposure too and again sinking this across all of the photographs.

So let's take a look at another example. This is a pretty nice looking photograph, pretty straight on, but I want to see what the color balance really is on this, and I don't have a gray card. So the way to do this is to grab onto your Eyedropper tool and find a Neutral. Look at the numbers on the bottom of the target. You can see that they are very close. That means that you have got a good neutral going. It looks a little bit blue. Let's try that again.

I want to see if this girl's pants will give us what we need. No, that's definitely not the look I am going for, so we will go back and get a nice clean neutral, and there it is. At this point I can decide whether or not I want to warm it up a little bit or leave it correctly balanced, as it is now. I think I am going to warm it up a little bit to really bring out some of the jewel tones in the vegetation. All right! So that's looking pretty nice. Now, I notice that the red of the girl's top is a little bit too intense, so I'm going to go down and take the saturation down on just the reds. There it is! And that will print nicely at this point.

Now, the other thing that I would like to do is I would like to darken the greens, so again in the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance panel, I will go to Luminance, click on that, and click on the Target Adjustment tool. This is a wonderful tool where if you bring it out into the color that you want to darken, mouse down, and then drag your mouse down, you'll darken those greens and only the greens. Everything else is left okay.

Now, you may be noticing that there is blue in the shadows. This is simply a warning to me that whatever is blue is not going to have any detail in the blacks, and it's just a nice way to let you know when you're adjusting that you've lost the detail there. I don't mind if the detail is lost in those blacks because there's really not that much detail that I want to see there. So I am not going to worry about it at this time. Now this is looking pretty good, but there is something I want to do to add a little bit of a creative adjustment to it.

I want to darken down the stairway and the steps, because I want all the attention to be brought down this beautiful diagonal line and into the girls. So I'm going to go up into the Adjustment Brush, click on that, and adjust my Exposure. I think about that will work. Come out with my brush and darken down those stairs. I want to also darken down a little bit of here, around here, and in this area too.

It's just a little bright. Now, if I want to increase the darkness, I come back here and pull the Exposure down until I like it, and I think that works very nicely there. So Lightroom has a lot of great tools for you to adjust your RAWs in, but don't think of them only as ways to adjust something that went wrong, but think of these tools as something that you can do to be very creative.

Let's take a look at a shot that I did. So you can see that I have the warning on that I'm clipping some of the whites. That is one thing I never ever want to do, so I am going to come down here and work with the Recovery mode, and that takes it right away. But the main thing about this photograph is that I knew the color was not going to look very good. I knew what I wanted to do with it, and what I wanted to do with it was to create more of an artistic feel to it.

I love the texture in the grass and I love the reflection of the sky in his trumpet and his posture. I loved everything about this, but I did not like the color, and so what I did was I went in and added some warm temperature to it and pulled the Saturation back, so I could create something that was more on the fine arts side than the photojournalistic side. So that's what you should remember about Lightroom, is not only can you use it to make adjustments, to do corrections, but you can also use it to really unleash the creative artist within.

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The Elements of Effective Photographs

29 video lessons · 25284 viewers

Natalie Fobes
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