A Guide to Color Grading Photos in Adobe Lightroom

A Guide to Color Grading Photos in Adobe Lightroom


Lightroom Edition

Color grading provides the ability to alter the appearance of your image in several ways. As a result, you can create something that expresses your style better than your original camera photo.

In this article, you’ll learn where to find color grading in Lightroom Classic on your desktop. You will also learn when to use specific colors.

Why Adobe replaced split tone with color grading

In Lightroom, Adobe replaced Split Toning with Color Grading in late 2020. Simply put, the company wanted to give users more choice.

With Split Toning, photographers could only change the colors of the highlights and shadows in their images. But with color grading, they can also change their halftones.

Color grading also allows the color of the entire image to be changed on a single wheel.

What you can use for color grading

You can use color grading to make technical changes to photos taken on your phone and camera. For example, if you capture a day in a bad mood, you might find that there is too much blue in the image straight out of your camera. If you took a photo on a sunny day, you might find too much yellow.

But you can also use color grading for styling and creative purposes. You can use it to change the mood of an image and reflect the emotions you want to bring out in the viewer.

With color grading, you can also change the luminance of specific parts of a photo. You can also choose how much you want to mix your alternate colors.

When to use color calibration

When editing your photos in Lightroom, it’s a good idea to edit other parts of your image first before color grading. For example, you can play around with the hue, saturation, and luminance of individual colors. You can also change saturation, vibrance, and white balance.

Once you’ve changed the colors, brightness, etc. of your image, color grading can add the perfect finishing touch.

Unless you go for a surreal style, there’s a good chance you want your photo to always look like it was taken in real life. Color grading at the start can make editing more difficult, and you may add too many or few of the other sliders.

Editing Lightroom semitones


Editing Lightroom semitones

When you use color grading, how you use it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re looking to create an image with warmer tones, it’s a good idea to focus more on yellow, orange, or red.

If you’re looking to add a cooler or suller feel, on the other hand, you should focus more on blues and greens.

Where to find color grading in Lightroom

Finding color grading wheels in Lightroom Classic is pretty straightforward. Below is a step by step guide.

Step 1: Open the Lightroom app on your computer.

2nd step: Click on the Develop tab.

Lightroom Development tab


Lightroom Development tab

Step 3: Scroll down to Color Calibration. The option is under Basic, Tone Curve and HSL / Color.

Lightroom color grading wheels


Lightroom color grading wheels

You can also change the layout of your color calibration wheels. By default, the Midtones, Shadows, and Highlights circles appear together. But if you prefer, you can choose to display them individually.

To view the wheels only, go to the Adjust section at the top of the Color Calibration tab. Click on the circles next to it until you find the image area you want to edit.

Lightroom individual wheels


Lightroom individual wheels

If you want to color the entire image, click on the final circle – which is Global. Then you can edit the photos as you like.

Lightroom Global color grading


Lightroom Global color grading

Take your photos to the next level with color grading

While knowing how to take good photos is essential, Lightroom is a powerful tool for tweaking your photos to suit your style. And color grading can mean the difference between average and great.

When using color grading, it’s important to remember that too many colors will add unwanted tint to your images. Therefore, practicing moderation is a good idea.

Mastering the color grading tool can be time consuming for beginners. So try to train as often as possible. Before long, you’ll start producing edits that will wow your friends and family.

Last updated on May 1, 2021

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