Lightroom - How To Enhance or Add Color

Untitled photo

Color grading was given a major update by Adobe for the last big release of Lightroom, and it has to be said, they have done a fantastic job. It allows you to perform global and/or targeted adjustments to colors in your images. The intuitive user interface means tonal adjustment is now a breeze to achieve. This makes the tool ideal for correcting tonal imbalances and making tonal enhancements in your images.

By default, when you open the Color Grading Tool, your eye is immediately drawn to 3 color wheels. There is one wheel each for Midtones, Shadows, and Highlights, and are labeled accordingly. Each wheel has all of the colors of the visible spectrum, and a number of controls.

The slider at the bottom is for Luminance to control brightness. The dot on the outside of the color wheel enables you to select a color from the spectrum. The dot in the center of each circle controls the intensity of the effect, whereby moving the dot towards the outer circumference of the circle increases the intensity.

The big sliders at the bottom of the panel labeled Blending and Balance are global adjustments. Blending controls the amount of mixing that occurs between the Shadows, Highlights, and Midtones. Balance is a prioritization of whether Shadows or Highlights are dominant. If that sounds too complicated, think of the sliders as shifting the tonal bands in the histogram. Finally, at the very top of the panel are icons so that you can display a color wheel with just the Midtones, Shadows, or Highlights controls. There is also a big color wheel icon that controls all colors globally.

Untitled photo

If we wanted to add color to the highlights of this black and white image, we would head over to the Highlights wheel, and first, select the desired color by moving the outer dot on the wheel. Then, select the center dot and increase the saturation to the desired amount.

This effect works great particularly in golden hour shots where you want to draw out the magenta and pink tones in the sky.

Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In