How to use Lightroom CC’s Color Grading feature to get the most out of your raw files

Jan 3, 2022

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

How to use Lightroom CC’s Color Grading feature to get the most out of your raw files

Jan 3, 2022

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Lightroom started to overhaul its Lightroom CC UI in around October 2020, switching the old split toning feature into a new Color Grading feature with more video editing style colour wheels rather than basic sliders and a standard colour picker. But it’s a feature that still confuses some Lightroom users who have only ever dealt with the previous split toning feature and have never worked with video before.

The Colour Grading feature does the same thing that the Split Toning tool did, except it lets you do a lot more, too, and it lets you do it a bit more intuitively. In this video, Kevin Raposo walks us through the settings and details of the Color Grading feature to show us how the feature works and how we can use it to enhance and improve our images.

Colour wheels are a traditional tool for grading in Adobe Premiere Pro and other video editing applications.

Like the Split Toning tool, Color Grading allows you to adjust your highlights and shadows, tinting them with a colour. But with the Color Grading tools, you can much more easily adjust the saturation of those colours as well as work separately on the midtones. This lets you do the now-pretty-much-a-cliche Orange and Teal look but while retaining things like real skin colour in the midtones.

The old Split Toning feature on the left vs the new Color Grading panel on the right.

Kevin’s walkthrough explains exactly how each wheel affects areas of different levels of brightness and how to adjust them to give us the results we want. He also goes through all of the other sliders that go along with the three colour wheels to explain how those affect the image, too.

It took a long time for video-style colour adjustments to come to image editing applications and although colour wheels like these have been in Lightroom for a little over a year now, it’s still notably missing from quite a few other image editing applications. Hopefully, they’ll catch on eventually.

How do you split-tone your images?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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3 responses to “How to use Lightroom CC’s Color Grading feature to get the most out of your raw files”

  1. OaklandWasp Avatar
    OaklandWasp

    Um, there is no Lightroom “CC” anymore. It’s Lightroom Classic and Lightroom. I realize their naming is lame, but no excuse for not being accurate if you want to be taken seriously.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      The application is called “Lightroom” (including the version on my phone that also has the colour wheels) and the suite is “Creative Cloud”. It’s a family of products. This feature hasn’t just come to one of them. Hence “Lightroom CC”.

      “If you want to be taken seriously” maybe you should lay off the comments for a while. :)

  2. Bingo bongo Avatar
    Bingo bongo

    Looks like a clone of capture one and davinci resolve. Seems Adobe is rather short on ideas but need to do something to satisfy the renters.