Master COLOR GRADING in Lightroom

Have you ever felt frustrated with the colors in your photos not turning out the way you imagined? Color grading plays a crucial role in enhancing the aesthetics of your images and creating a cohesive look for your photography portfolio. In this blog, we will explore the art of mastering color grading in Adobe Lightroom, a powerful tool that allows photographers to fine-tune and elevate the colors in their photos. From understanding the basics of color theory to using Lightroom’s advanced editing tools, we will provide you with practical tips and techniques to help you achieve professional-looking color grades for your photos. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced photographer, this blog is your guide to unlocking the full potential of color grading in Lightroom.

Master Color Grading in Lightroom

Introduction to Color Grading in Lightroom

In this video we are going to go in depth with color grading in Lightroom. So far we’ve done in-depth videos on hsl tone curve and calibration, so now we’re moving on to the latest edition in Lightroom – color grading released last fall. This update finally gave Lightroom color wheels, commonly used in color grading for video. So let’s dive in and see how you can use it to edit photos better, and thanks to Squarespace for sponsoring this video.

Using Color Wheels

First of all, I’ll be working in the desktop version of Lightroom called Lightroom Classic. You can also use color grading on Lightroom’s mobile app or in this version of Lightroom which used to be called Lightroom CC and now is just called Lightroom. The split toning panel from older versions of Lightroom has now been expanded into the color grading panel, so you won’t see split toning anymore. If you have a preset or something that utilizes split toning, it’s 100% compatible with color grading. Split toning was a very simple and honestly limiting panel, and color grading is an extension of that, opening up new possibilities.

Features of Color Wheels

You can switch between color wheel views with the icons at the top. You’ll get the three-way view by default, which includes mid-tones, shadows, and highlights. You can also move into each individual wheel for more precise control with the three icons. The basic idea of these color wheels is to separate the pixels in the image by brightness and then allow you to apply a color tint to these different pixels. You can tint the shadows blue, the midtones tan, and the highlights yellow, for example.

Adjusting Color Wheels

Moving the control point in the middle of the wheel will adjust the hue and saturation. We can flip open the arrow to show the sliders for both, and watch them move as we drag around the circle. Hold Option or Alt on your keyboard when dragging to move slower, hold Command or Control on your keyboard to lock in saturation and only adjust the hue. To just adjust the saturation, click and then move right or left with your cursor, and of course the slider will give you the most precise control over these parameters. You can use them to dial in the look after getting it pretty close on the wheel. Below hue and saturation, we have luminance, which controls the brightness of these pixels.

Global Controls

The next two sliders are global controls and determine how those ranges interact with one another. The first one of these is blending, which gives you control over how much of these three tone ranges overlap with each other. Typically, you want some amount of overlap so the image has nice smooth transitions between the tonal ranges. Below blending is balance, which changes how these ranges are defined.

Utilizing Color Grading in Editing

Generally, we utilize the color grading panel near the end of our editing process. We start with the basic panel then calibration and the tone curve, then HSL, and then color grading. That’s just our method and what works for us, but of course you can use it however you see fit. Here we have a photo that’s already edited, and we want to use the color grading panel to stylize it a little bit more to enhance the mood.

Applying Color Grading to an Edit

For this particular image, we added some blue tint to the shadows, and then added the slightest amount of warmth to the mid-tones. For the highlights, a little orange tint was added. A global color was also added to give the image a colder feel, and the luminance slider was used to brighten or darken the image as a whole. The color grade added a refined look and was more in line with the color grade seen in a movie, which is what we were after.


For us, color grading remains one of those things that can easily be overdone, but when you dial it in tastefully, it can take your photos to a whole new level. With the new color grading panel in Lightroom, the possibilities for creating stunning edits are endless!

Frequently Asked Questions about Master COLOR GRADING in Lightroom

What is color grading in Lightroom?

Color grading in Lightroom is the process of adjusting and enhancing the colors in your photos to achieve a certain mood or style. It involves manipulating the colors, tones, and contrast to create a specific look for your images.

How can I learn to master color grading in Lightroom?

There are many tutorials and online courses available that can help you learn how to master color grading in Lightroom. You can also experiment with different tools and settings in Lightroom to practice and refine your color grading skills.

What are the key tools for color grading in Lightroom?

The key tools for color grading in Lightroom include the Basic panel, HSL/Color panel, Split Toning, and the Tone Curve. These tools allow you to adjust the overall color and tone of your image, as well as specific colors within the image.

How can color grading improve my photos?

Color grading can enhance the mood and atmosphere of your photos, making them more visually appealing and impactful. It can also help to create a cohesive look across a series of photos, such as in a photo shoot or project.

Are there any tips for effective color grading in Lightroom?

Some tips for effective color grading in Lightroom include starting with a clear vision for the look you want to achieve, using reference images for inspiration, and making subtle adjustments to avoid over-editing. It’s also important to consider the impact of color on the overall composition and storytelling of your photos.

I hope you find useful my article Master COLOR GRADING in Lightroom, I also recommend you to read my other posts in my blog at this link.

If you need help with anything join the community or do not hesitate to contact me.

Best of luck! and follow your passion.

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