Guide to Color Grading Photos in Adobe Lightroom

While the camera is working as a tool to capture a scene or subject, you can change the tone and feel of the final photo during post-processing. Using Adobe Lightroom, you can color grade your photos to give them an atmospheric feel and style. Whether it’s a landscape shot or a party picture, you can use Lightroom to make your photos feel more impactful.

Color Grading gives you the opportunity to change how your image looks in a variety of ways. As a result, you can create something that expresses your style better than the original shot from your camera.

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

Why did Adobe replace Split Toning with Color Grading?

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

With Split Toning, photographers could only change colors for the highlights and shadows of their images. But they can also change their midtones with Color Grading.

Color Grading also makes it possible to edit the color of the entire picture on a single wheel.

What Can You Use Color Grading For?

You can use Color Grading to make technical changes to photos taken on both your phone and camera. For example, if you catch a gloomy day, you may find that there is a lot of blue in the photo as soon as you step out of your camera. If you took a photo on a sunny day, you might find a lot of yellow by the way.

But you can also use Color Grading for styling and creative purposes. You can use it to change the mood of a painting and reflect the emotions you want to extract from the viewer.

You can also change the brightness of certain parts of a photo with Color Grading. You can also choose how much you want to mix your alternate colors.

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When Should You Use Color Grading?

When editing your photos in Lightroom, it’s a good idea to start by changing other parts of your image before Color Grading. For example, you can play with hue, saturation, and brightness for individual colors. You can also adjust the saturation, vibrancy, and white balance.

Change your image’s colors, brightness, etc. After editing, Color Grading can add the perfect finishing touch.

If you’re not into the surrealistic style, you’re likely to want your photo to look like it was taken in real life. Initially Color Grading can make editing more difficult and you risk adding too much or too little from other sliders.

Editing Lightroom midtones

As you navigate using Color Grading, how you use it depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you want to create an image in warmer tones, it’s a good idea to focus more on fine-tuning the yellow, orange, or red.

On the other hand, if you want to add a cooler or more moody feel, you should focus more on blues and greens.

Where Can You Find Color Grading in Lightroom?

Finding Color Grading wheels in Lightroom Classic is pretty straightforward. Below is a step-by-step guide.

Stage 1: Open the Lightroom app on your computer.

Step 2: Click the Development tab.

Lightroom development tab

Stage 3: Scroll down to Color Grading. The option is below Basic, Tone Curve and HSL/Color.

Lightroom color grading wheels

You can also change the layout of your Color Grading wheels. By default, you’ll see the Midtones, Shadows, and Highlights circles together. However, if you want, you can choose to view each separately.

To view the wheels on their own, go to the Adjustment section at the top of the Color Grading tab. Click the circles next to it until you find the image area you want to edit.

Lightroom individual wheels

If you want to color grade the entire image, click the last circle, which is Global. Then you can edit the photos as you wish.

Lightroom color grading global

Take Your Photos to the Next Level with Color Grading

While knowing how to take good photos is crucial, Lightroom is a powerful tool for adjusting your photos to suit your style. And Color Rating can make the difference between average and outstanding.

When using Color Grading, it’s important to remember that too much will add an unpleasant color to your images; so it’s a good idea to be in moderation.

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Mastering the Color Grading tool can take time for beginners. Therefore, try to practice as often as possible. Before long, you’ll start making arrangements that wow your friends and family.

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