Portrait Editing Part V: Tone & Color

We’re almost finished! Today I’m going to be tackling the things that – I feel – provide an image with the true adjustments that give it the quality and feel of a finished product: Toning & Color Grading. These are the elements where you’re truly making small adjustments to give the image the amount of contrast in different areas, and also provide a color effect that provides the finished, stylized look that you saw in your mind when you first shot the image. Whether that be a very flat image, an extremely contrasty image, a cooler image, or a warm light that mimics the sunrise or sunset. All of that has to be captured initially in camera, but it can be enhanced and really brought out in this step in the editing process. The one thing that continues to be a common theme in my entire editing series is this: Consistency & Subtlety. Always make sure you’re checking your layers and that the adjustments you’re making look natural.

So what are we really doing in Tone & Color and why do I separate those two out? Well, the reason is because they are truly two separate curve layers that should be treated and kept separate. With the tone curve, I’m changing the values of the luminosity within the image and only effecting the lighter and darker tones without changing the color values. With the color curve we’re doing just the opposite. I don’t want to change my luminosity within the image, I only want to make very small changes to the RGB curves to create the color change I desire. I can accomplish both with a curve adjustment layer, but keeping them separate is essential. I touch on this and plenty of other little tips in the video, so be sure to give it a watch and ask any question you may still have. I love teaching and hopefully this series is continuing to give you a more and more in-depth look at my photo editing process and also allow you to see how much I try and get right in camera.

Be sure to follow me on Vimeo and YouTube so you don’t miss any of the updates, and check back next week for the finale in this series on Editing Portraits. Also, always feel free to drop me a line and let me know your additional questions so I can be sure to address them on the blog and social media.

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