Even though many people might think of Photoshop first for colour toning their images, there are many ways that this can be done in Lightroom as well. Today I want to talk about colour in Lightroom and how I approach this.
I am going to choose another picture for this tutorial, because this picture has a lot of different kinds of colors in it. I am going to start in the HSL panel today. You could just drag the sliders back and forth, but the way I approach it is, by first deciding what the picture needs in order for it to look like I envisioned.
This picture has many different colours in it, but because the contrast in the raw file is very low due to fog, it might not be that obvious. So the first thing I am going to do is drag the Vibrance slider in the Basic panel all the way to +100. This way I can see more clearly which colours are most dominant in this image and what colours to keep in check.
What I am seeing now is that the greens on the tree are yellowish in tone, there is definitely some cyan in the greens in the background (probably small pines) as well as some cyan in the highlights, there is orange in the leaves and there is some magenta in the foreground. I know from experience that if I am going to add contrast I will make these colors stand out more and this scene will change into one that will not convey the stillness I am after.
This is where vision comes in. For striking colours, you might need a colour contrast, which is achieved by using colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel. It is however not a good idea to have too many contrasting colours in a picture, or it will become too hard to "read".
In my case I want my pictures to look still, which is why I often opt for colours from the same family in my pictures, an analogous colour scheme. I also opt for colours that are not too saturated, because saturated colours are striking, but if I am after a painterly image with a peaceful feeling, vibrant hues are not what I am after.
This is where the Hue Saturation Luminance (HSL) panel comes in....
I am adjusting the colours in a way that they don't contrast as much anymore and that the number of colours is reduced. With the Vibrance slider still all the way up to 100 I adjust the hues.
What you can see is that I tried to even out the difference between the yellows and the oranges, by adding more yellow to the oranges and more orange to the yellows. The greens in the background that had a distinct amount of cyan in them are toned down by adding yellow as well. This means that all the green colours in this picture are now more similar.
You can see the result in the picture above. This still has the Vibrance slider all the way up. I reduce the saturation of the Aqua (cyan), because I know that they are clashing with the oranges now. I might want cyan in the entire picture later, but I'd rather start with a toned down version of cyan in the background, because any blue or cyan that I add will make this pop even more. This is the brightest bit of the picture and having a saturated colour there will be quite distracting.
I put the Vibrance slider back to zero and start on the contrast in the picture. I add this as described in part 1.
I reduced the colour temperature to give this picture a cooler feel. I took this picture when the blue hour was starting, so there was quite a bit of blue present in this scene. You can see that adding contrast made the cyans in the background more prominent and I am reducing those in the HSL panel again.
I am going to show you what else can be done to add colour and mood to pictures in Lightroom. Last week I showed you the power of the Tone Curve in Part 2 of this series.Today we are going to use Split Toning. What this does is add a colour to the highlights and shadows separately. If you would like to visualize which colour is going to be added, you can press Option or Alt whilst dragging the hue slider to the right. The moment you let go of the Alt of Option Key, you will not see any colour anymore, this is because the saturation is set to 0 by default. When you have picked a hue, you can then drag the saturation slider to the right to introduce this colour into the highlights or shadows. The balance is meant to tell this tool how many tones in the image you want to be affected by the shadows slider or the highlights slider. Dragging to the left means more tones (luminance values) are going to be affected by the adjustments you made for the shadows and dragging to the right will include more of the luminance values for the adjustments you made for the highlights.
In this case I aded a turquoise colour with a low saturation to both the shadows and the highlights. I could have also added it to just the highlights and dragged the Balance slider all the way to the right, which would have looked similar.
Now I am going to show you what happens if I add a bit of colour contrast to the picture. This means I am going to choose a shadow colour that is more or less on the opposite side of the colour wheel. You can see what happens now. The shadows are warmer and the highlights are cool.. You might ask yourself what the use is of me reducing the cyans in the image first before adding is to the entire picture now. The answer is that this turquoise colour would have stuck to the cyans and made it look very saturated, which is not what I wanted.You can see that I will need to adjust the saturation of the turquoise again anyway.
Let's try something else. I picked a colour blue with less cyan I it and pushed the highlights slider to the right to include more midtones in the adjustments made to the highlights. I picked a warm colour for the darker shadows like the trees in the from, This helps with the separation of foreground and background as well. Obviously, the colour is a bit too much, but it can always be reduced by reducing the saturation of the highlights.
Just to show you how powerful Split Toning can be I have made another radical adjustment. Now it emphasizes the autumn feel of this image more than the time of the day.
Another way to affect the colours is by choosing a colour profile that suits your image. By default it is set to Adobe Color. This is not as bad as it used to be (especially for Sony cameras), but I prefer to use a profile for my own camera.
Click on the arrows next to Adobe Color to get a drop down menu and then click browse. The profiles that will show up in the dropdown will be different for you if you use another camera. This picture was taken by the Panasonic Lumix S1 with the V-Log profiles added to it, so you can see these profiles popping up under camera profiles in my case.
There are lots of profiles available these days, just scroll down to find even more. If you hover over the presets without even clicking on them the result will be showing up as a preview. Clicking on one will select it. Here you see a selection of Lightroom profiles called Modern
I chose Camera Cinelike V, which I usually choose. For my previous cameras I would choose the Sony camera profile Camera Deep. The Landscape presets often have way too much contrast and or saturation in them, so I avoid them as much as I can.
If you still need to make some adjustments to the colours, you can do so in the Tone Curve panel as described in Part 2 of this series.The adjustment below resulted in the following picture...
This tutorial was meant to give you an ideas of what options are available to you in Lightroom regarding colour adjustments. I have shown you some pretty extreme examples just to show you clearly what these options can do.
Below is my picture as edited in Photoshop...
I edit my pictures mostly in Photoshop. It has more tools available for precise adjustments and it has many more options for creative editing than Lightroom The picture that you see above looks like this when edited in Photoshop using one of my painterly edits. If you want to learn all about how to create these painterly effects in Photoshop I can recommend my eBook The Magic of Forest Photography: The Recipes. In this eBook I go to great lengths explaining each step of the capturing and editing process of three pictures.